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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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2 Comments

2 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.

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The Nation

CDL Meals offering special promotion for driver appreciation week

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CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean that focuses on nutritious offerings for truck drivers, is offering a special promotion to help transportation companies celebrate National Driver Appreciation Week.

For National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), fleet operators can purchase discounted meals and receive free Hot Logic heating bags.

There is a minimum purchase of 50 meals required to receive the free bag. Purchases of 100 meals receive two free bags.

Companies can also purchase gift cards for drivers to buy meals at their convenience. Orders are being taken through August 30.

The annual NTDAW, taking place this year September 8-14 commemorates and honors all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment to one of the country’s most demanding jobs.

“We are proud to support drivers across the country with delicious food that encourages better health,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “This special promotion gives fleets a chance to support their drivers with something that’s good for them, too.”

The nature of truck driving can also lend itself to a less than healthy lifestyle, which is why CDL Meals focuses solely on this underserved profession.

CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. The meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed any time. Along with the meals, CDL provides a driver wellness education booklet with tips and suggestions to improve your health with easy lifestyle changes. Meals are $10 each for purchases up to 100 meals, with cost savings when purchasing more than 150 meals.

CDL Meals was launched earlier this year and was a beneficial part of the healthful transformation for Danny Jewell, 2018 Owner/Operator of the Year, who lost more than 25 pounds with the meal plan and coaching from Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer.

With more than 50 years on the road and 6 million miles without an incident, Jewell was recognized for his professionalism and commitment to the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

Safety council says motor vehicle deaths in 2019 projected to go below 40,000

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The estimate for 2019 caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

ITASCA, Ill. — Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the four-year upward trend in motor vehicle deaths that began in 2015 is ebbing with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2019 dropping 3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2018.

An estimated 18,580 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June of this year, compared to the council’s revised estimate of 19,060 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2018 six-month projections.

The estimate caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s.

A total of 118,315 people died on the roadways between 2015 and 2017, and an estimated 40,000 additional people perished last year.

However, drivers still face the same fatality risk this year as they did when fatalities were eclipsing 40,000 annually, because the estimated annual rate of deaths per miles driven has remained stable – NSC estimates 1.2 deaths per every million vehicle miles traveled, unchanged from 2018 rates.

“While the numbers indicate a slight improvement, the rate of deaths remains stagnant, and 18,580 deaths so far this year is unacceptable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept death as the price of mobility. We urge all drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively.”

The council’s early estimates indicate significant progress in some states. In the first half of this year, several states have experienced at least a 10% percent drop in motor vehicle deaths, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah. A sample of states with increases through the first six months include Kentucky (6%), Hawaii (20%), Oregon (6%) and New Mexico (15%).

A complete list of state results is available here.

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. Visit nsc.org for defensive driving tips.
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids. Visit StopEverydayKillers.org to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Visit DriveitHOME.org for resources.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Visit MyCarDoesWhat.org for information.
  • Fix recalls immediately. Visit ChecktoProtect.org to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
  • Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
  • Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of more than 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050. Visit nsc.org/roadtozero to join.

The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Supplemental estimate information can be found here.

The NSC defines “serious” injuries as those requiring medical attention.

The National Safety Council uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics – an arm of the CDC – when calculating its estimates, because these data are the most comprehensive and inclusive numbers available.

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The Nation

TTI report: Travel demand growing faster than system’s ability to absorb that demand

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — If more Americans are working, a new report confirms, more of us are also tied up in traffic.

The picture is painted clearly in the 2019 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).

Along with illustrating the problem, researchers also stress the same straightforward solutions they’ve long advocated: more of everything — roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand, and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use.

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” said Tim Lomax, a report author, and Regents Fellow at TTI. “We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

The United States added 1.9 million jobs from 2016 to 2017 — slower growth than the 2.3 million-plus growth in four of the five previous years, but more than enough to exacerbate the nation’s traffic woes. TTI’s gridlock data extends back to 1982, when Ronald Reagan was in his first term, a postage stamp cost 20 cents, and gas was about $1.25 a gallon. Since that time, the number of jobs in the nation has grown almost nonstop by just over 50 percent to the current total of 153 million.

Furthermore, since 1982:

  • The number of hours per commuter lost to traffic delay has nearly tripled, climbing to 54 hours a year.
  • The annual cost of that delay per commuter has nearly doubled, to $1,010.
  • The nationwide cost of gridlock has grown more than tenfold, to $166 billion a year.
  • The amount of fuel wasted in stalled traffic has more than tripled, to 3.3 billion gallons a year.

“The value of investing in our nation’s transportation infrastructure in a strategic and effective manner cannot be overstated as these added costs impact our national productivity, quality of life, economic efficiency and global competitiveness,” said Marc Williams, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, which funded the TTI research. The 2008–2009 recession produced only a brief pause in traffic congestion growth, which bounced back at an even quicker pace than associated job recovery.

The result of today’s urban congestion is that the average freeway traveler has to allow almost twice the expected trip duration to ensure dependable arrival for time-sensitive things like medical appointments, day-care pickup, and airline flights compared to what would be required without congestion. Instead of the 20 minutes needed in light traffic, it’s best to plan a 34-minute trip.

“Those minutes don’t sound like much, but they add up quickly over a year,” says David Schrank, a TTI senior research scientist, and report author. “Eventually, we’re talking billions of wasted hours, and the cost of delay at that scale is just enormous.” Simply put, travel demand is growing faster than the system’s ability to absorb that demand. Once considered a problem exclusive to big cities, roadway gridlock now afflicts urban areas of all sizes and consumes far more of each day, making “rush hour” a long-outdated reference.

“The problem affects not only commuters, but also manufacturers and shippers whose travel delay costs are passed on to consumers,” said Bill Eisele, a report author, and TTI senior research engineer. “While trucks constitute only 7 percent of road traffic, they account for 12 percent of congestion cost.”

Researchers emphasize that it’s urgent for the nation to develop consensus on specific strategies for each urban travel corridor now, since major projects, programs, and funding strategies take a decade or more to develop and bear fruit.

Almost every strategy works somewhere and in some situations, they say, and almost every strategy is the wrong idea in certain places at certain times. Using a balanced and diversified approach that focuses on more of everything — tempered by realistic expectations — is the best way forward.

The 2019 Urban Mobility Report examines conditions in 494 urban areas across all states and Puerto Rico. The research was supported by INRIX, a leading provider of transportation data and analytics.

For a nationwide interactive map of congestion conditions visit https://mobility.tamu.edu/umr/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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