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Trucking Alliance says greatest pressure on industry is reducing crashes

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In 2017, the last reportable year, there were more than 415,000 large truck accidents in the U.S. in which 4,761 were killed, including more than 600 truck drivers and 148,000 were injured. (Associated Press: RHONDA SCHOLTING/West Metro Fire Rescue)

WASHINGTON — Although it didn’t have a seat at the witness table for Wednesday’s “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America” hearing before the House Highways and Transit, the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, better known as the Trucking Alliance, submitted comments touching several key areas of the trucking industry.

Among other things, the Alliance said:

  • There should be no greater pressure on the trucking industry than to reduce large truck crash fatalities and injuries because large truck crash fatalities can be eliminated.
  • No industry segment should be exempt from installing electronic logging devices.
  • Thousands of commercial truck drivers are illicit drug users.
  • Truck drivers should be 21 years old or older to operate commercial trucks in interstate commerce.
  • Large trucks should adhere to a reasonable maximum speed of 65 mph.
  • Collision mitigation systems should be required on new commercial trucks.

Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, who is co-founder of the Trucking Alliance and serves as the coalition’s president, noted that 2017, the last reportable year, there were more than 415,000 large truck accidents in the U.S. in which 4,761 were killed, including more than 600 truck drivers and 148,000 were injured.

“These statistics should alarm every trucking company employer, whose drivers share the road with millions of motorists every day,” Williams said. “The trucking industry is indispensable to the US economy,” Williams recently said. “But the industry has too many accidents. More truck drivers lost their lives in 2017, than in any year in the previous 10 years. We must aggressively address these tragic figures.”

Williams believes a first step is to reverse the industry priorities. “Support progressive safety reforms that make sense for our country and citizens first, our industry second, and our companies third,” he said. “Yet several trucking-specific bills before the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee would propose the opposite – legislation to benefit companies first, the trucking industry second, and our country and citizens, third. This committee must adopt safety reforms to reduce large truck crashes and reject legislation that would appease special interests but sacrifice public safety in the process.”

Williams noted that ELDs play a major role in reducing truck crashes, yet rather than embrace ELDs for the safety benefits they will achieve, certain industry segments want an exemption from ELDs.

He said there are at least two bills before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that would allow thousands of truck drivers of agricultural goods to operate “off the grid” and without a reliable way to verify whether they are in compliance with on-duty regulations. These bills would compromise public safety.

Another bill would allow any motor carrier that operates 10 or fewer trucks to operate without an ELD.

According to data provided by the American Trucking Associations, over 90 percent of the nation’s motor carriers have 10 or fewer trucks.

In its comments, the Trucking Alliance also renewed its push for hair testing for substance abuse.

Williams said the Alliance recently submitted data to the Department of Transportation showing “compelling evidence” that thousands of habitual drug users are manipulating federal drug test protocols and obtaining jobs as commercial truck drivers.

He said the survey data compared the pre-employment drug test results of 151,662 truck driver applicants, who were asked to submit to two drug tests — a urinalysis and a hair analysis. Almost all applicants held an active commercial driver license. Williams said 94% of the truck driver applicants tested drug-free. However, thousands of applicants failed either or both drug tests.

“Alarmingly, the urinalysis, the only method recognized by USDOT, and relied on by almost all trucking company employers, actually failed to identify most drug abusers,” Williams said. “The urinalysis detected drugs in 949 applicants, about 1% of the population. However, 8.6%, or 8,878 truck driver applicants, either failed or refused the hair test. Put another way, the urinalysis missed nine out of 10 actual illicit drug users.”

The Trucking Alliance is probably the most prominent group that is lobbying against any efforts to allow drivers under 21 to operate in interstate commerce.

“Most states allow teenagers between the ages of 18-21 to operate commercial trucks within their state boundary,” Williams said. “While statistics are lacking, anecdotal evidence suggests these teenage truck drivers operate lighter weight, short trucks, such as delivery vans and straight or panel trucks. Few teenagers actually operate Class 8 tractor-trailer combinations within their state. These big rigs carry a laden weight of 80,000 pounds. These are the tractor trailers used in interstate commerce. Operating these tractor trailer combinations requires elevated skills, considerable experience, maturity and self-discipline.”

Williams said the Trucking Alliance supports a new federal safety standard that would require all large commercial trucks to maintain a maximum speed limit of 65 mph on the nation’s highways.

According to NHTSA, in 2017, speeding was one of the factors for almost 27% of motor vehicle crash deaths. The World Health Organization’s “Report on Road Safety” estimates that for every 1% increase in mean speed, there is a 4% increase in the fatal crash risk and a 3% increase in the serious crash risk. The top speed of large tractor trailer combinations should be limited.

The trucking industry has historically supported truck speed limiters.

As for safety systems, Williams said collision mitigation systems installed in commercial trucks can reduce large truck crashes.

He said the Trucking Alliance supports the conclusions of a 2017 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study. The study, entitled “Leveraging Large Truck Technology and Engineering to Realize Safety Gains,” researched four truck safety technologies, all of which can greatly reduce injuries and fatalities in large truck crashes:

  • Lane departure warning systems, which detect when the vehicle drifts out of its lane and warns the driver
  • Video-based onboard safety monitoring, which utilizes in-vehicle video cameras and sensors.
  • Automatic emergency braking systems, which detect when the truck is in danger of striking the vehicle in front of it and brakes automatically, if needed.
  • Air disc brakes, which will eventually be superior to traditional drum brakes, as these systems are continually improved.

Some of the largest trucking companies in the U.S. are members of the Trucker Alliance, including Cargo Transporters, Dupre, J.B. Hunt, KLLM Transport Services, Knight Transportation, Maverick Transportation, Swift, U.S. Xpress and May Trucking Co.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Charles Stein

    June 13, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Most of what is being said in this article is correct. However what bothers me is the 65 mph maximum speed. If imposed on all trucks, this would essentially create a split speed limit. These have been proven over and over again to be counter productive to safety. You have disarmed the larger vehicle and made it a sitting duck in traffic. In many states that used to have a split speed, trucks were often involved in being rear ended by cars. The real problems are that drivers still are being pressed for time. Trying to make at times tough schedules, and having to put up with delays at the customer. To which many of the aforementioned members of trucker alliance say that paying drivers fifteen dollars an hour after giving up two hours is adequate. They have limited drivers pay for waiting now they also want to limit their speed as well. This translates into drivers being late having to babysit loads without compensation. The real problem for the most part is distracted driving, people in cars who don’t know how to drive around trucks, and horrible infrastructure. If a driver of a large truck keeps a good following distance in front of himself, it doesn’t matter how fast he is traveling.

  2. William

    June 13, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    This isn’t rocket science, you want to cut down on truck crashes, lose electronic logs. We realize they’re here to stay, but drivers are racing the clock, taking more chances etc…

  3. Randy

    June 14, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    What William said, and the members of the Trucker Alliance are the ones that are in the most wrecks and fatal collisions

  4. D Allen

    June 16, 2019 at 11:11 am

    No doubt focus should continue to be on safety on ALL on-road vehicles, but one frustrating item is the omission of the fact that the vast majority of fatality accidents involving heavy trucks are not the fault of the truck driver (or his/her truck). The latest statistics indicate over 75% of fatality accidents involving heavy trucks are the fault of the adverse.

  5. Dan g.

    June 30, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Sorry but turning trucks down to 65 mph? As a driver who has been driving a truck at 65 for pass 10 years, I can say u are dead wrong. It’s not safe it actually been proven to be unsafe.. elds are find. But the issue is unless u get shipper and receivers to stop keeping us at docks forever and get truck companies to set realistic safe transit time, and not force drivers to run bat out of hell, nothing going to change.. if there must be a speed limit it should be at a safe REASONABLE speed like 72..65 is way 2 slow.. engine works way too hard as it is and according 2 dealers, when trucks do less than 70 mph, the engine does not do a proper Regen because the engine doesn’t get hot enough. What is needed on the roads is more police in unmarked cars, NOT HARASSING truckers.. but going after other motorist who cut truckers off and do unsafe things around trucks.. other motorist who see mark police cars drive good but when they not around is when they do stupid things

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The Nation

Colorado mountain safety effort includes Dryvewyze, PrePass, motor carrier group

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A tractor-trailer straddles a runaway truck ramp along I-70 in Colorado. One of the Colorado ramps, the Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp on westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months. (Courtesy: COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and in-cab driver alert providers PrePass Safety Alliance and Drivewyze, is helping enhance safety for truckers traveling through the state’s mountainous areas.

The Mountain Rules is a comprehensive, strategic and safety-focused effort to inform and educate in-state and interstate trucking companies and drivers on the challenges of driving in Colorado’s mountains.

It includes information on potential hazards and a consistent reminder on the need to be slow, steady, and safe for the long haul.

“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission — get everyone home safely — and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”

In addition to an educational effort, The Mountain Rules consists of infrastructure and informational improvements, including:

  • Signing eastbound Interstate 70 and all eastbound chain stations, east of the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels, with information on the brake check locations for truckers.
  • Restriping the wide eastbound exit ramp at the Genesee Park Interchange into a more defined short-term truck parking area where overheated brakes can cool down and equipment checks can take place prior to the final descent into the Golden area.
  • A new subscription-based, in-cab alert system, warning truck drivers about specific areas where brake failures could occur, and the location of brake check and runaway truck ramps.
  • Information gathering on the feasibility of a new ramp and other measures to mitigate runaway trucks, such as geometric and signage improvements to the existing Mount Vernon Canyon Truck Runaway Ramp.

“I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors,” said CSP Col. Matthew Packard. “Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.”

The I-70 Mountain Corridor will be the initial pilot for The Mountain Rules. CDOT then will expand the program to other mountainous locations.

“Our mountains and the highways winding through them provide some of the greatest vistas in the world and make Colorado special,” said the Chairman of the CMCA Jim Coleman. “These same roadways, such as I-70, pose a particular challenge for truck drivers and truck brakes, with long and steep downgrades of up to 7% percent. This outreach effort and program will go a long way in educating truck drivers of how to navigate through our mountains, which will enhance safety for all highway users.”

Drivewyze said with its alerts subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps. Colorado was Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety

According to Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze, Colorado’s I-70 West, which goes from Vail Pass from the west through Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158) to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east, represents 60 miles of difficult driving. “It’s a challenge for truck drivers with steep grades and heavy traffic, especially for those new to mountain driving,” he said. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”

PrePass said its alerts are a feature of the MOTION weigh station bypass mobile application. The alerts notify truck drivers of steep grades ahead from a distance of approximately five miles away, and also notify them as they approach any of five runaway truck ramps along the route. Drivers will also receive alerts for seven sites along I-70 where they can perform brake checks and/or during winter, complete truck tire chain-ups or removals.

“These dynamic alerts will improve highway safety by notifying truck drivers well in advance of steep grades and sites where they can check their brakes,” said Terry Maple, regional director for PrePass Safety Alliance. Maple, former Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, said the additional alerts will minimize distractions because they require no interaction on the part of the driver.

I-70 is known as having one of the country’s most difficult passes for truck drivers. An out-of-control runaway truck in April slammed into stopped traffic near Lakewood, killing four people. Other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route. The Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp along westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months.

 

 

 

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The Nation

Canadian study identifies speed as best predictor of car crashes

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Researchers said when crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them. (Courtesy: UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO)

WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada — Speeding is the riskiest kind of aggressive driving, according to a unique analysis of data from on-board devices in vehicles.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo examined data from 28 million trips for possible links between four bad driving behaviors – speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering – and the likelihood of crashes.

Their analysis revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn’t be established.

“For insurance companies using this telematics data to assess who is a good risk and who isn’t, our suggestion based on the data is to look at speed, at people driving too fast,” said Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor in Waterloo’s faculty of mathematics.

Data for the study came from insurance companies in Ontario and Texas with clients who had on-board diagnostic devices installed in their vehicles.

In the first study of its kind, researchers initially analyzed the data to identify 28 crashes based on indicators such as rapid deceleration.

Each vehicle in those crashes was then matched with 20 control vehicles that had not been in crashes, but were similar in terms of other characteristics, including geographic location and driving distance.

Steiner said when the crash cases were compared to the control cases using a sophisticated penalty system for the four kinds of bad driving, speeding emerged as the key difference between them.

“Some of the results are no surprise, but prior to this we had a whole industry based on intuition,” said Allaa (Ella) Hilal, an adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Now it is formulated. We know aggressive driving has an impact.”

Steiner cautioned that the study was limited by several unknowns, such as different drivers using the same vehicle, and more research is needed to verify the results.

But he said the analysis of telematics data could eventually revolutionize the insurance industry by enabling fairer, personalized premiums based on actual driving behavior, not age, gender or location.

Hilal believes the data could also make roads safer by giving drivers both tangible evidence and financial incentives to change.

“Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviors,” she said. “We are super pumped about its potential.”

Manda Winlaw, a former mathematics post-doctoral fellow, and statistics professor Jock MacKay also collaborated on the study, using telematics data to find risky driver behaviour, which appears in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Nation

NATSO releases industry guide addressing top industry questions

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NATSO said "Answers to the Top 18 Questions about the Travel Center Industry" is an essential resource for data on travel center and truckstop industry operations. (Courtesy: NATSO)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — NATSO, representing America’s travel plazas and truckstops, has released a detailed industry guide  answering the top questions about the travel center industry.

Industry knowledge can improve business performance and help operators drive targeted results, according to Darren Schulte, NATSO’s vice president, membership.

But finding answers isn’t always easy. This is why Schulte dug into the more frequently asked questions about the truckstop and travel center industry and answered them in this new industry guide.

“Answers to the Top 18 Questions about the Travel Center Industry” is an essential resource for data on travel center and truckstop industry operations, Schulte said. The guide contains comparable data that operators can utilize to assess their own operations and better understand the competitive landscape. Operators can then use this information to improve their analysis and strategize advantageous investment decisions.

With the report in hand, operators can gain greater insight into the average sales at a full-service restaurant or a garage or service center, how much a professional truck driver spends on fuel at a truckstop, average staffing costs at a location, and specific sales and costs within a location.

The downloadable “Answers to the Top 18 Questions About the Travel Center Industry” is available for free to NATSO members and non-members for $250.

To download or purchase the guide, click here. 

“The Answers to the Top 18 Questions About the Travel Center Industry” was produced in partnership with Travel Center Profit Drivers, a NATSO initiative that provides access to specialized, experienced consultants and the tools they have created to help travel centers thrive. Truckstop and travel center operators looking for help building or growing their business should contact Don Quinn, NATSO Services vice president, at (703) 739-8572 or dquinn@natso.com to discuss how the NATSO team can help.

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