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Road Safe America cites hike in big rig crash deaths, again calls for speed limiters

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Road Safe America said statistics show that from 2009 to 2016, miles driven by heavy commercial trucks slightly decreased while the crashes involving them continually increased.  (FOTOSEARCH)

ATLANTA — Road Safe America Tuesday federal crash data it had analyzed showed that all but six U.S. states had increases in big-rig truck crash deaths from 2009 to 2017, the most recent year of available data.

From 2009 through 2017, a total of 35,882 people died in large truck crashes, the organization said in a news release.

“The sad fact is that many of these deaths could have been avoided if use of existing speed limiting and automatic emergency braking technologies had been the law,” said Steve Owings, co-founder of the highway-safety non-profit Road Safe America.

Statistics show that from 2009 to 2016, miles driven by heavy commercial trucks slightly decreased while the crashes involving them continually increased.

The data shows the top five states with the greatest number of truck crash fatalities in 2017 were in order: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The five states with the largest percentage increases in truck crash deaths from 2009 to 2017 were, in order of greatest increase – Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Texas and Nevada.

“Most of the states in this top five list have truck speed limits of 70 mph or more,” Owings said. “There is no good reason for big rigs that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, or more in some states, to be operating at speeds this high since they cannot stop in the same distance in an emergency as vehicles with which they share the roads.

“Yet, unlike many other leading nations, our country does not require the use of automatic emergency braking or even speed limiters, which would help to save lives of people in passenger vehicles and professional truck drivers, too. In fact, required use of speed limiters is so prevalent around the world that they have been built into America’s big-rig trucks since the 1990s.  So, all that is needed is a requirement to turn them on and set them at a reasonable top speed such as 65 mph. A recent national survey found 80 percent of voters across all demographics join us in calling for these requirements.”

In 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Newsal Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposed equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on U.S. roadways, and requiring those devices be set to a maximum speed, a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

However, the NPRM never gained any traction.

Most industry stakeholders said the initiative fell victim to President Donald Trump’s order to reduce federal regulatory efforts.

Owings said speed governors improve truck safety by limiting the top speed a truck can travel, thus allowing a truck driver to have more time to avoid a crash or reduce the severity of crashes that do still occur.

Most big-rigs already use them for this same reason and because doing so saves fuel, improving profitability, he said.

Automatic emergency braking also enhances safety on our roads by alerting truck drivers of slow-moving and non-moving objects and then applying the brakes if the drivers fail to for whatever reason, Owings said.

“Road Safe America encourages all trucking companies who have not already done so, to cap the maximum speed of their fleets by setting their speed limiters at 65mph and to install AEB on every truck,” Owings said. “We also encourage the public to learn more about these life-saving technologies by visiting our website: .

 

 

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Lisa Schmitt

    January 29, 2019 at 3:34 pm

    UM Let me explain something to you. A car doing 80, coming up over a hill, to a semi doing 65 Will cause MORE accidents. Do any of you even DRIVE a truck???

  2. Shaq

    January 30, 2019 at 10:01 pm

    The automatic braking system does more harm then good. I nearly jackknifed because of that system.

  3. JEFFREY B DUGGER

    February 1, 2019 at 4:49 am

    The accidents are caused by these commercial truck co. not by the drivers or speed of truck’s. These companies hide behind the ELD, FORCED dispatch, abusive treatment of drivers. These companies have a very high rate of driver turn over. The dispatched pick up and del. times are always off/short, such as having about one hour left to drive and dispatched for a pick up 90 miles away in heavy traffic, and the driver is fired if he or she doesn’t make it. The truck companies looking for drivers on The Trucker are part of the commercial companies that are the bad guys here. Remember we honor our drivers and get our drivers home, NOT, when they allow you home time after being hired.

  4. Pjen

    February 1, 2019 at 5:07 am

    Just keep on assuming every accident is the truck drivers fault…everyone else does

  5. Talbot

    February 1, 2019 at 6:36 am

    ok then limit all autos cars trucks everything problem solved cars run a lot faster than trucks and cause most of the accidents from doing dumb things sorry but i have been out there and seen it all.

    • Judy Ochs

      February 1, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Make the cars who always pull over to the side of the highway to take their dog to go pee or do that themselves with their flashers on, go to an on ramp instead… Common sense.. We have to move to the other lane when these idiots pull over on the side of the highway for stupid reasons.. Cars are almost ALWAYS the cause of semi crashes… No one wants to take someone’s life so we do what we have to to avoid that so we don’t have to live our life out knowing we killed someone… The authorities do NOTHING to keep cars from cutting us off or tailgate us or brake check us.. The dash cam is the most valuable thing we can use… But yet, we are always at fault…

  6. Tony Jenkins

    February 2, 2019 at 11:03 am

    i’ve noticed that people who want these limiters are people who’ve never drove a truck. How many people at ata have drove a truck and yet they know what’s best for drivers. They say people want speed limiters on big trucks, that’s because their only getting one side of the whole story.

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Health caution urged for truckers who ate at Kentucky Popeyes’ TA location March 17-April 5

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Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, light colored stools and diarrhea. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

FLORENCE, Ky. — A case of hepatitis A has been diagnosed in an employee who handled food at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen located at 7777 Burlington Pike, Florence, Kentucky, within the TravelCenters of America facility.  An ongoing investigation of the facility found that this employee worked during a period of time when ill or infectious, which included the dates of March 17 through April 5.

While it is relatively uncommon for restaurant patrons to become infected with the hepatitis A virus because of an infected food handler, anyone who consumed food or drink at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen during the dates listed is recommended to receive a vaccination if it is within two weeks of exposure as protection from becoming ill, which would include some of the time frame listed by the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

If it was during the dates listed but it has been longer than two weeks since the specific time a person ate there, it is recommended that they still get the vaccination although it will be outside the window to protect you from contracting the illness if you were exposed at this establishment.

Anyone who consumed food or drink at this Popeyes during the stated time period should monitor their health for symptoms of hepatitis A infection up to 50 days after exposure; wash their hands with soap and warm water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food; and stay at home and contact their healthcare provider immediately if symptoms of hepatitis A infection develop.

The establishment’s management is cooperating with the investigation and response activities.  It has implemented enhanced disinfection steps to address surfaces that may have been contaminated.  Employees who worked with the involved employee have been informed to get hepatitis A vaccination to protect against the virus.  Co-workers have a greater risk of exposure due to prolonged close contact with the case.  Vaccination of associated food service workers helps to protect them against infection, which further protects the public.  Handwashing and related hygienic practices have been reinforced with the restaurant management and employees.  Additionally, the Health Department has directed restaurant employees to self-monitor for any symptoms of Hepatitis A that may develop over the next 50 days.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver that can cause loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, fever, stomach pain, brown colored urine, light colored stools and diarrhea.  Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice) may also appear.  People may have some or none of these symptoms.  It could take up to 7 weeks after being exposed to the virus for someone to become ill.  Children often do not exhibit symptoms.  Any person who believes they may have symptoms of hepatitis A should contact their healthcare provider.  Additional information regarding Hepatitis A can be found at nkyhealth.org.

Hepatitis A usually spreads when a person unknowingly ingests the virus from objects, food, or drinks contaminated by small, undetected amounts of stool from an infected person. The virus spreads when an infected person does not wash his/her hands adequately after using the toilet or engages in behaviors that increase risk of infection.  Careful hand washing, including under the fingernails, with soap and water, along with vaccination of anyone at risk of infection, will help prevent the spread of this disease.

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Young driver bill back, same quotes, likely same out-come

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The DRIVE-Safe Act would establish an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21.

Here we go again.

News came late last month that Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young has been part of bipartisan group of members of Congress who had introduced (oops, reintroduced) a bill that they said would address the driver shortage and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truck drivers.

Of course, the first order of business last August was to come up with a flashy name that could be boiled down to a fancy acronym — Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act.

Next was coming up with a constituent-satisfying quote to promote the bill.

“Indiana is the crossroads of America and the truck driver shortage has a significant impact on our state,” Young said in a news release issued last August. “As I’ve traveled throughout Indiana, I have heard from Hoosiers that a pathway is needed to qualify more drivers to move goods safely and efficiently. The DRIVE-Safe Act will help address the driver shortage, enhance safety, and create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers.”

Hey, what worked well once, might work again.

“Indiana is the Crossroads of America and the truck driver shortage has a significant impact on our state,” the quote in the February 2019 news release read. “As I’ve traveled throughout Indiana, I have heard from Hoosiers that a pathway is needed to qualify more drivers to move goods safely and efficiently. The DRIVE-Safe Act will help address the driver shortage, enhance safety, and create new career opportunities for young Hoosiers.”

But it didn’t work last time.

Nothing did.

The DRIVE-Safe Act never got out of committee.

So many pieces of legislation wind up on the cutting room floor.

Prediction: Don’t expect this session’s DRIVE-Safe to fare any better.

The DRIVE-Safe Act would establish an apprenticeship program that would allow for the legal operation of a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce by CDL holders under the age of 21.

The apprenticeship program would require young drivers to complete at least 400 hours of on-duty time and 240 hours of driving time with an experienced driver in the cab with them. All trucks used for training in the program must be equipped with safety technology including active braking collision mitigation systems, a video event capture system and a speed governor set at 65 miles per hour or below.

The truck must have an automatic manual or automatic transmission.

As for helping with the driver shortage, the industry can’t agree on whether there is even a driver shortage.

The American Trucking Associations says yes to the tune of 50,000.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says no and what’s really needed is better pay and benefits.

One thing’s for sure.

There are plenty of trucks sitting empty.

Our office is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Two large truckload carriers call this area home — Maverick USA and CalArk International.

Drive by their location any time of the day and there will be numerous empty tractors on the lot.

Those tractors are not there just for show; they cost money and they aren’t making any money for Maverick and CalArk.

(I wonder if our transportation system could handle 50,000 more trucks on the road every day, but that’s another story.)

The final quirky piece of this puzzle is intrastate versus interstate.

My wife and I grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which borders Oklahoma (there’s one street, half of which is in Arkansas, the other half in Oklahoma).

Fort Smith provides goods and services to a goodly portion of extreme eastern Oklahoma.

Somehow, it’s never made sense that an 18- 20-year-old CDL holder could drive back and forth between Little Rock and Fort Smith (160 miles), but not between Fort Smith and Sallisaw, Oklahoma (25 miles).

Bottom line is don’t expect to see 18- 20-year-old truckers driving interstate commerce any time soon.

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After 31 years on the road, driver sees more is lost than gained through ELD oversight

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Thomas Bast has made a good living for more than three decades hauling high-priced automobiles. He thinks ELDS have done little more than add to an industry that is “choking” in over-regulation. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

Standing at the grill counter, picking out the side dishes to his early afternoon meal, Thomas Bast seemed to be in no particular hurry. Or at least he didn’t seem like a man who felt rushed. He chatted a bit with the woman who was putting together his meal, and once he had his Styrofoam container in hand, he turned casually, in no great rush to get back to his truck.

Did he have time to talk? Yeah, sure, he could spare a few minutes. After 31 years behind the wheel, he wears his experience. You can see it in how he carries himself, taking his days in stride.

Just don’t get him going about ELDs.

Bast has seen a lot of changes to the business, and for his money there has been a decided turn for the worse in the last few years, and the reason? “This,” he said, tapping his finger on a picture of an ELD.

“These ELDs are a joke,” he said, “and they’re here to stay.”

Of course, the popular argument is that it’s not the ELDs, it’s the rules they are designed to monitor. But it’s the technology, Bast argues, that brings out the rigidity in those rules.

“The trucking industry is the most regulated industry in the country,” Bast said. “You have to be safe, that’s understood. But the more you regulate, it’s like choking” drivers who are trying to do their jobs.

“You can’t control what goes on outside your windshield,” he said. “You got roads, traffic, weather conditions. You’ve got four clocks to follow that don’t abide by any of those conditions at all.”

A prime example, he says, is the premise that he must take a 30-minute break “not before five hours and not after eight.”

“Listen, you got to be safe, right? We all know when to stop. Eleven hours is enough, a 14-hour day is long.”

Drivers know what they’re doing, Bast said, but the world doesn’t always cooperate with your schedule, and with paper logs, a driver could stretch the truth sometimes. Now, he said, the ELDs and other technology track drivers so closely it feels like a game of “Gotcha!” — a big money grab.

“They can fine you for talking to a dispatcher when you’re off duty, and they do,” he said.

“Now, what’s happening is you got truck stops filled up at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. You got guys sleeping on the side of the road. You’ve got troopers knocking on the window in the middle of the night who don’t care if they’re going to put them into violation; they got to get them off the side of the road.”

You didn’t see so much of that two years ago, Bast said. As he sees it, the emphasis on safety has actually cut into efficiency in the industry. Eventually, he said, we’ll all see the effects in higher prices for, well, everything.

“You got to be safe,” he said, “but you got to get out of the way more.” He even questions whether we’re really getting safety.

“You think this is going to slow them down?” he said. “It’s going to speed them up, because they got to get to the truck stop, got to get to that break, got to pull over.”

Bast, 52, became an over-the-road trucker at 21. He came to trucking by horse, racehorses, to be exact.

“My family was in the equine business,” Bast said. When he was young, he shoed horses. From there, he progressed to transporting them. When the family business folded, he moved from horses to horsepower, moving racecars.

Throughout his career, Bast has specialized in enclosed car transport, moving racecars, antiques and exotic cars. “Lambos, Ferraris, Bugattis … ,” he said. He’s a private contractor currently with United Routes Transport.

“I never did general freight,” Bast said. “I never ran by the mile. I always specialized, because that’s where you make good money.”

Still, the time restrictions matter. His contracts call for a percentage of the gross receipts of the truck. “When you broker a deal it’s three to five days, five to seven, or seven to 10 days. And when you don’t hit those deadlines, it comes off your gross receipts,” he said.

Being out on the road five or six weeks at a time, Bast said he’s pulling in about $90,000 a year, and he pretty much gets to call his own shots, professionally speaking, which goes a long way in offsetting his frustrations.

He’s also a little concerned about the driver shortage, or rather the reaction to it. “They’re spitting guys out of those schools that don’t know a steering wheel from a fifth wheel,” he said.

“A lot of these guys are because they were middle management, they lost their job in ’08, and this was the easiest thing to jump into. When I started, you were there because you wanted to be there.”

He still does, but after more than three decades doing it, he’d be a lot happier if there was a little more trust that he knows what he’s doing.

And with that, he excused himself. He had to get going.

 

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