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Safety advocacy group, Teamsters critical of proposed HOS changes

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The Teamsters Union says the HOS proposal would put road safety at risk, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says plan would weaken Hours of Service rules. (Courtesy: TEAMSTERS, ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY)

WASHINGTON — Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Teamsters Union both reacted negatively to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposals to alter the Hours of Service rules.

The agency released the proposed changes in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Wednesday during a news conference.

“Advocates is staunchly opposed to the proposed changes in the NPRM which would significantly weaken HOS rules,” said Cathy Chase, president of the advocacy organization. “Current HOS rules already allow truck drivers to maintain demanding schedules of up to 11 hours behind the wheel during a 14-hour workday.  On this existing schedule, truckers can drive up to 77 hours in seven days, double the average American work week.  Any proposal that increases pressure on truck drivers, opens new opportunities for abuse of the rules, and further endangers truck drivers and all those who share the roads with them should be rejected.”

Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said if implemented, the proposed rules would put road safety at risk.

“While we continue to review these proposed regulatory changes by the FMCSA, the Teamsters have serious concerns about what we have seen thus far when it comes to these hours of service reforms,” Hoffa said.

Chase said the proposed rule changes could have drastic safety impacts, particularly because of the potential to increase driver fatigue.

“While the proposal does not technically change total driving and off-duty time, it does run counter to established science which shows that driver fatigue and crash risk is impacted by the quality of sleep, and by when driving is occurring,” Chase said. “Driving later in the day, later in a shift, and changing the nature of breaks – all lead to more fatigue and more risk of crashes.

Chase listed specific concerns about each of the five key elements in the proposal.

  • Short-Haul Exemption. The proposal would extend the short-haul driving window from 12 hours to 14 hours and would expand the radius of operations from 100 air miles to 150 air miles. These proposals coupled with existing exemptions for short-haul drivers increase the likelihood of abuse or fraud related to HOS compliance.
  • Adverse Driving Conditions. Drivers already have flexibility for managing unexpected and adverse driving conditions including personal conveyance allowances which can be used to pull off the road safely once one’s HOS limits are reached. Extending this window by two additional hours will put truck drivers on the roads during perilous conditions, endangering both them and everyone on the roads, and could also increase the opportunity for abuse of this exemption.
  • 30-Minute Break. This proposed change ties the 30-minute rest break to driving time as opposed to on-duty time. The proposal would also no longer require “breaks” to be taken off-duty. Therefore, a driver could complete their entire work day without ever having an off-duty break.
  • Sleeper Berth. The current sleeper berth rule requires two sleeper berth periods, one of at least eight hours, and one of at least two hours. The proposal would shorten the first sleeper berth period to seven hours, exacerbating an already known, widespread problem of truck driver fatigue. The proposal would also allow the second sleeper berth period of two hours or more to extend the driving window, pushing driving time into later shift hours which is known to be associated with higher crash risks.
  • Split Duty Provision. This proposal would allow drivers to “pause” their duty clock by 30 minutes and up to three hours, allowing a driver to have a driving window of up to 17 hours. Research shows that driving later in the duty period is associated with higher crash risks.

“These changes and any other proposals that would further degrade HOS rules will increase driver fatigue, an issue the National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly cited as a major contributor to truck crashes.  The NTSB has included reducing fatigue-related crashes in every edition of its Most Wanted List of safety changes since 2016.  Self-reports of fatigue, which almost always underestimate the problem, document that fatigue in truck operations is a significant issue.”

Chase pointed to a 2006 driver survey prepared for the FMCSA that said 65 percent [of drivers] reported that they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving” and almost half (47.6 percent) of drivers said they had fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

“Truck crash deaths continue to increase dramatically. Since 2009, a recent low, truck crash deaths have risen by 41 percent.  This level of carnage would not be tolerated in any other industry,” Chase said. Yet, certain segments of the trucking industry continue to push for further weakening of HOS rules and other truck safety regulations.  These safety rollbacks, called for under the guise of “flexibility,” are nothing more than thinly veiled attempts to force drivers to work even more arduous schedules.  Advocates will be providing comments to the Federal Docket in response to this seriously misguided proposal.”

Hoffa said in the effort to increase so-called “flexibility” for trucking companies, the FMCSA is abandoning safety and allowing drivers to push themselves to the limit even further.

“Changes for short-haul truckers, for example, would extend their days from 12 to 14 hours on the job. That means a longer and more exhausting workday for tens of thousands of American workers,” Hoffa said adding that the Teamsters are also concerned about language changing the 30-minute rest break and the ability of drivers to press the pause button on their hours of service clock.

“Trucking is already one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs,” Hoffa said. “We shouldn’t be sacrificing the health and safety of drivers just to pad the profits of their big business bosses.”

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. JJ

    August 16, 2019 at 5:48 pm

    When electronic logging was mandated, all the paper loggers could do for recourse was to drive faster. Today rarely are a majority of trucks running less than 70 mph and often I see from my mitigation radar 75 mph plus. Three to four years ago around the Midwest most were running 65-68 mph consistently. This is a less safe situation than when they used their magic pencils and paper logs. Especially since most can’t control their trailers in their lanes at faster speeds. Following distance, dropping too close in front of others and running construction zones and bad weather too fast has killed a lot of people. Can’t slow down or they won’t make that almighty dollar. Money is more important than peoples lives.

  2. Kyle TeSlaa

    August 19, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Under current or proposed law a driver cannot drive 77 hour in 7 day. (70 hour clock) Also many of the people supporting the changes have argued that flexibility is needed to relieve pressure on drivers and allow them time to rest when they are tired. Most of the opponents to the changes have no understanding of the trucking industry or how the current hos work in the real world.

  3. Eddie Garcia

    September 22, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Truckers should be able to break up their 10hr clock into 3 separate rest breaks in a rolling 24hr period. Sometimes we have days where we can’t sleep a full 8 hrs, and we’ll just be sitting in the truck doing nothing, which is a drag on our energy and when our 10 hrs are up we jump behind the wheel to get moving and if we get tired down the road we don’t want to stop to take another break, so we end up driving tired. Our time would be much better served if we could move down the road after sleeping for a minimum of 3 hrs, and if we get tired again, we can take another 3 HR nap, or maybe the next time we pull over we’ll be able to sleep a full 8hrs, and with that, the 11 HR rule should be scrapped. Also, the reset should be reduced to 24hrs.

  4. Eddie Garcia

    September 22, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Truckers should be able to break up their 10hr clock into 3 separate rest breaks in a rolling 24hr period. Sometimes we have days where we can’t sleep a full 8 hrs, and we’ll just be sitting in the truck doing nothing, which is a drag on our energy and when our 10 hrs are up we jump behind the wheel to get moving and if we get tired down the road we don’t want to stop to take another break, so we end up driving tired. Our time would be much better served if we could move down the road after sleeping for a minimum of 3 hrs, and if we get tired again, we can take another 3 HR nap, or maybe the next time we pull over we’ll be able to sleep a full 8hrs, and with that, the 11 HR rule should be scrapped. Also, the reset should be reduced to 24hrs. Oh yeah, and teamsters don’t speak for 3 million drivers!

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The Nation

CDL Meals forms partnership with American Association of Owner-Operators

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CDL Meals offers a variety of organic chef-prepared meals that help drivers make healthy eating choices while on the road. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean focusing on healthful meal options for professional truck and bus drivers, has formed a partnership with the American Association of Owner Operators (AAOO).

CDL Meals offers a variety of organic chef-prepared meals that help drivers make healthy eating choices while on the road.

“We could not be more excited to launch our first healthy-eating alliance with AAOO,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “We believe that people working in all industries deserve to live a healthy lifestyle and have access to the tools they need to ensure overall wellbeing, despite industry standards and limitations. CDL Meals has already made a positive impact on drivers and through this partnership, more operators can benefit from the quality meal plans.”

The American Association of Owner Operators is a nationwide organization dedicated to providing professional truckers and small fleet owners with the latest technology, benefits and assistance to advance in today’s trucking industry.

Perry said through the partnership, members of the AAOO will have access to CDL’s seasonal menus, free nationwide delivery and the promise of fresh, affordable meals on the road.

“We are so thankful the team at Fresh n’ Lean saw an opening to help improve the wellbeing of those in the trucking industry,” said David Huff, CEO of AAOO. “We are committed to helping drivers stay safe while out on the road so they can get back home to their family and friends. “Good nutrition is the most important part of staying healthy and staying healthy is a huge factor in staying safe. That’s why we are so excited to partner with CDL Meals and provide great tasting meals at an affordable price to our members.”

Perry said CDL Meals is a service formulated especially for commercially licensed drivers to deliver chef-prepared food items anywhere within the U.S. using organic ingredients to create balanced, wholesome meals. Each menu option consists of a combination of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and vegetables. All meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum-sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed at any time.

Along with the meals, each purchase comes with a 14-page driver wellness education booklet that includes dietary tips, an exercise plan, and suggestions to improve overall health through simple lifestyle changes.

For more information on CDL Meals, visit www.cdlmeals.com.

For more information on AAOO, visit https://aaofoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

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NHTSA: Overall traffic fatalities in 2018 decline 2.4%, 2019 drop likely

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NHTSA said the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled decreased by 3.4 percent (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Tuesday released highway crash fatality data for 2018, showing a 2.4% decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities.

“This is encouraging news, but still far too many perished or were injured, and nearly all crashes are preventable, so much more work remains to be done to make America’s roads safer for everyone,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said.

The data, compiled by NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), shows that highway fatalities decreased in 2018 with 913 fewer fatalities, down to 36,560 people from 37,473 people in 2017. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled also decreased by 3.4 percent (from 1.17 in 2017 to 1.13 in 2018), the lowest fatality rate since 2014.

The 2018 FARS release also clarifies previously released data on large trucks involved in fatal crashes. NHTSA reexamined supporting material and reclassified several light pickup trucks to an appropriate large truck category (10,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR). As a result, the 9% increase in large-truck-related fatalities reported for 2017 has been revised to 4.9%. For 2018, large-truck related fatalities increased by 0.9 percent. The details of the scope of the changes are documented in the 2018 fatal motor vehicle crashes overview research note.

No data was available on Class 8 tractor-trailer combinations.

Other findings from the 2018 FARS data include:

  • Fatalities among children (14 and younger) declined 10.3%
  • Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities declined 3.6%
  • Speeding-related fatalities declined 5.7%
  • Motorcyclist fatalities declined 4.7 percent.

“New vehicles are safer than older ones and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said. “NHTSA has spent recent years partnering with state and local governments and safety advocates to urge the public to never drive impaired or distracted, to avoid excessive speed, and to always buckle up.”

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governor Highway Safety Association (GHSA) said the organization was pleased to see the 2018 decline and the estimated 3.4% dip thus far in 2019.

“A decline in 2019 would mark three straight years of fewer fatalities despite a strong economy, which typically correlates with increased traffic deaths,” he said. “However, the only acceptable level of deaths is zero, and we will not rest until that is achieved.”

Adkins said GHSA was glad to note progress in reducing alcohol-related, speeding-related and motorcyclist fatalities in 2018.

“The tremendous investments made today in highway safety have been beneficial, but clearly not commensurate with the need,” Adkins said. “GHSA is committed to working with our partners in the federal government, advocacy community and at the state and local level to accelerate the momentum toward zero deaths on our nation’s roadways.”

NHTSA said the projected 2019 decline translates to an estimated first-half 2019 fatality rate of 1.06, the lowest first-half level since 2015. The estimates for the second quarter of 2019 represent the seventh-consecutive year-over-year quarterly decline in fatalities, starting in the last quarter of 2017.

NHTSA is identifying opportunities to leverage its resources and collaborate with modal partners within USDOT to reduce fatalities among pedestrians and pedalcyclists (bicyclists and riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals), among whom 2018 fatalities unfortunately increased by 3.4% (to 6,283) and 6.3% (to 857), respectively.

With the release of the 2018 and 2019 data, NHTSA also introduced its new Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST), a modernized crash query tool that lets users not only query fatal crash data but also generate estimates of crashes and people injured in crashes. The upgraded functionalities in the new tool include generating multi-year trends, estimates of alcohol involvement, and charting/tabulation/mapping of query results. The tool, along with instructions on its usage, can be accessed here.

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Truckers Christmas Group set to launch annual holiday fundraising campaign

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Since its inception, TGCO has raised more than $90,000 and helped 154 trucking families ease the financial burdens associated with the holiday season. (Courtesy: TRUCKERS CHRISTMAS GROUP)

PARK CITY, Kan. — The Truckers Christmas Group (TGCO), an organization that raises funds to help professional truck drivers and their families in the United States and Canada, has begun its 12th annual holiday fundraising campaign.

TCGO will begin advertising for this year’s campaign on November 18.  Nominations will open on the TGCO website beginning November 21 and will close on December 11.

Families will be notified by TGCO’s very own Santa Claus on December 16-17.

Created in 2008, TGCO supports CDL drivers and their families during the holiday season by raising funds requested through aid applications and nominations.

In 2018, the organization saw record numbers of applications and delivered $8,000 to 16 families during the Christmas season.

Since its inception, TGCO has raised more than $90,000 and helped 154 trucking families ease the financial burdens associated with the holiday season.

Several trucking companies went bankrupt in the first half of 2019 alone, leaving more than 3,000 drivers without jobs. TGCO is anticipating another record year of applications and seeks donations to help provide aid for families in need — not just from unemployment — but from illness and other catastrophic events that can make the holiday season more stressful year-after-year.

“We haven’t even opened the application process yet and already we’ve received recommendations for multiple families that would significantly benefit from TGCO’s efforts,” said Mark Abraham, president of TGCO. “This year has been incredibly difficult for the drivers in our community and the donation of goods and funds will help us make sure each and every driver in our trucking family can support their families during the holiday season.”

Along with monetary donations made on the TGCO website, donors can also purchase items donated to the TGCO online Christmas store opening November 21. Items sold in The TGCO Christmas Store are generously provided by businesses and individuals, and new items will be listed regularly, so donors are encouraged to visit TGCO’s website often, Abraham said.

Donors can also give their time by helping TGCO vet candidates, solicit nominations and raise awareness of the organization’s mission this season and in years to come. New volunteer recruitment begins November 1 on TGCO’s Facebook page in coordination with media partners.

To make a donation or to nominate a driver and his or her family, visit https://truckerschristmasgroup.org/. All nominations are anonymous and open to professional CDL drivers living in the United States and Canada.

Businesses and individuals who want to contribute to The Christmas Store should contact Mark Abraham at mark@truckerschristmasgroup.org. for additional information.

Donors can also visit TGCO on Facebook and Twitter

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