Posted by: project151 | December 20, 2007

Media Watch : U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Operation Hours Of Truck Drivers

These headlines were provided to P-151 via The Truck Safety Coalition in Arlington, VA. Testimony is being given and great discussion is taking place about the amount of hours truckers are allowed to drive under current regulations, a big contributor to accidents. We appreciate TSC for keeping P-151 in the loop on this very important effort.

The Associated Press, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Senator Blasts Trucking-Hours Rule

TheTrucker.com, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Founder of P.A.T.T. issues scathing testimony against FMCSA over HOS

National Public Radio (Morning Edition); Wednesday, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Senate to Grapple with Driver Safety for Truckers

eTrucker; Tuesday, December 18, 2007
HEADLINE: NTSB wants recorders, tighter log controls

eTrucker; Monday, December 17, 2007
HEADLINE: White House clears training proposal, considers another

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The Associated Press, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Senator Blasts Trucking-Hours Rule
By DAN CATERINICCHIA, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON — A Democratic senator on Wednesday blasted the Bush administration’s decision to ignore repeated court orders to reduce truck drivers’ hours and said keeping the 11-hour limit is “patently unsafe.”

“I think the proposed rule is a sham … and so do our courts,” New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg said at a Senate subcommittee hearing. He was joined by consumer advocates who’ve sought legal orders to reduce by one hour truckers’ daily drive time. “The administration has refused to listen and it’s time for Congress to get involved.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration last week issued an interim final rule that maintains the current 11-hour driving limit, under which truckers are required to rest for 10 hours. The public has 60 days to comment on the interim final rule.

FMCSA Administrator John Hill said government data show the number of crashes involving fatigued drivers has remained constant and fatalities have decreased slightly since the current rule went into effect in 2004.

But the fatality data is “cherry-picked,” said LaMont Byrd, director of safety and health for the Teamsters union, which joined consumer groups in opposing the 11-hour limit.

Hill urged any groups with relevant data to submit it to the agency.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in September delayed until Dec. 27 a requirement that would reduce the continuous driving limit to 10 hours with eight hours of rest. The court issued a similar order two years ago.

Consumer advocates sued to reduce the amount of time truckers can stay behind the wheel continuously, arguing that longer hours put everyone on the road at risk.

At the hearing, Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, choked back tears as she described how her teenage son and three friends were killed in an accident involving a tired trucker. Izer, who held up her son’s picture at the end of the hearing, endorses a reduction in drivers’ hours.

Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, told the Senate subcommittee on surface transportation and merchant marine infrastructure, safety and security, that it is “insanity” the government twice ignored court orders.

On Wednesday, the Washington-based consumer watchdog filed an order asking the court to vacate the interim final rule as “inadequate,” as it simply reiterates a regulation that’s been twice overruled, Claybrook said.

American Trucking Associations President and Chief Executive Bill Graves in October said he expected federal regulators to issue an interim final rule maintaining the 11-hour limit. Dave Osiecki, the trade group’s vice president of safety, security and operations, on Wednesday cited the government data as evidence that the rule is effective.

To increase safety, Osiecki called for a national maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour for all vehicles and for trucks to be outfitted with technology that prohibits them from exceeding that limit. ATA members include United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp., JB Hunt Transport Services Inc. and YRC Worldwide.

Lautenberg, the subcommittee chairman, said technology in the trucks to enforce the driving-hours limits would help, but FMCSA has yet to require it. Hill said a proposed rule would require the on-board recorders in a small portion of the trucks, but he wants to expand that population.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents more than 158,000 independent truckers nationwide, also supports the 11-hour rule, said member Walter J. Krupski. He asked for more flexibility to ensure drivers are not penalized financially for getting off the road when they are tired during a work day.

End.

TheTrucker.com, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Founder of P.A.T.T. issues scathing testimony against FMCSA over HOS
The Trucker Staff

WASHINGTON — Attempting to address fatigue on the highways by allowing truckers to drive more hours is like allowing motorists to consume more alcohol in order to alleviate drunk driving, the founder of Parents against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), told a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Hours of Service today.

Daphne Izer, who founded P.A.T.T. in 1993 after her son and three other teens were killed by a fatigued Wal-Mart driver, said “the lack of positive action by our federal government on the issue of tired truckers lies in sharp contrast to actions taken to stop drunk driving.”

In her testimony Izer contended that 97 percent of deaths in car/truck crashes involved the car occupants (not mentioning statistics that show car drivers cause most of the crashes). She also cited research by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Australian Federal Office of Road Safety that she said found 30 percent to 40 percent of large truck crashes were due to fatigue. “Even the U.S. DOT has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major factor in truck crash causation,” Izer said.

She said a 1995 “summit” organized by the Federal Highway Administration ranked “driver fatigue” as the number one issue, “Yet 12 years later and after more than 60,000 truck crash deaths and a million more injuries, truck driving, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, still remains one of the most dangerous occupations and thousands of innocent people are needlessly killed annually on our roads and highways.”

She maintained that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has “engaged in persistent denial of these scientific findings and refuses to acknowledge that it is, in fact, making motor carrier and highway safety more dangerous.”

She went on to say that FMCSA’s HOS regulations “are designed to push truck drivers to work and drive to the point where the chance of a crash is dramatically increased. …”

Blasting FMCSA’s recently issued Interim Final Rule on HOS, which kept the 11-hour driving rule and 34-hour restart portions that an appeals court had vacated, Izer said, “In effect, six different judges in two separate cases agreed that the FMCSA has failed to justify the dramatic increases in daily and weekly driving and working hours that both the 2003 and 2005 final rules allowed.

“What is even more incredible about these rules is that they directly contradict the U.S. DOT’s own statements about the dangers of exceptionally long driving and working hours made in earlier rulemaking actions on truck drivers’ HOS. In a complete reversal, hours that the U.S. DOT formerly held to be unacceptable and dangerous were now deemed acceptable in the 2003 and 2005 final rules.”

Izer added that current HOS rules push truckers “beyond the limits of human endurance. … Truck drivers should be afforded the same respect as other workers, work reasonable hours and be permitted to have sleep patterns that are in accord with normal human needs.”

End

National Public Radio (Morning Edition); Wednesday, December 19, 2007
HEADLINE: Senate to Grapple with Driver Safety for Truckers
By Kathleen Schalch

The Senate is due to hear the hotly contested issue of how many hours can truckers safely drive. The Bush administration lengthened time behind the wheel in 2004. But safety advocates sued saying tired truckers are putting themselves and everyone else on the road at risk.

Listen to the entire broadcast now at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17390425

End.

eTrucker; Tuesday, December 18, 2007
HEADLINE: NTSB wants recorders, tighter log controls

In response to a July 2004 multiple-vehicle rear-end collision in a construction zone, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended Dec. 17 that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require all interstate carriers to use electronic on-board recorders to monitor compliance with hours-of-service regulations and to take measures in the interim to prevent log tampering and submission of false logs.

Specifically, NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker recommended that the FMCSA require motor carriers to create and maintain audit control systems that include, at a minimum, the retention of all original and corrected paper logs and the use of bound and sequentially numbered logs.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the crash on I-94 near Chelsea, Mich., was a truck driver’s failure to stop upon encountering traffic congestion in a temporary traffic control zone. Using global positioning system data from the driver’s employer, Equity Transportation of Grand Rapids, Mich., NTSB investigators concluded that the driver had been on duty continuously for 19.75 hours, driving almost 14 cumulative hours during that time.

Contributing to the accident were Equity Transportation’s insufficient regard for, and oversight of, driver compliance with hours regulations and the FMCSA’s failure to require tamperproof driver logs, Rosenker told FMCSA Administrator John Hill in a letter.

Another contributor was the Michigan Department of Transportation’s failure to conduct a merge traffic capacity analysis as part of a bridge rehabilitation project, Rosenker said.

Commenting on the FMCSA’s current proposal to require recorders only on carriers with a pattern of violations, Rosenker noted that Equity would not be considered a pattern violator since it consistently has received satisfactory ratings before and after the compliance review triggered by the July 2004 accident.

While the FMCSA proposes incentives to get carriers to install recorders voluntarily, “the Safety Board is unconvinced that these incentives are sufficient to override the financial motivation that pattern violators have for continuing to circumvent hours-of-service regulations and to not use EOBRs for tracking hours of service,” Rosenker said.

For a copy of the NTSB recommendation letter to FMCSA, click here (http://www.ntsb.gov/Recs/letters/2007/H07_41_42.pdf).

End.

eTrucker; Monday, December 17, 2007
HEADLINE: White House clears training proposal, considers another

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to propose soon that new drivers who will operate vehicles that require a CDL receive mandatory behind-the-wheel training. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved a notice of proposed rulemaking on Nov. 29, clearing the document for publication in the Federal Register.

Separately, FMCSA last week submitted for OMB review a proposal that would require a commercial learner’s permit as a pre-condition for a CDL. That proposed rule also would revise CDL knowledge and skills testing standards and implement fraud detection and prevention initiatives at state driver licensing agencies, as required by the SAFE Port Act of 2006.

The proposal regarding behind-the-wheel training responds to a December 2005 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that a May 2004 rule on minimum training standards was inadequate because it did not require any training in the commercial vehicle.

That rule, which has remained in place, requires classroom education for entry-level drivers in four areas: medical qualification, drug and alcohol testing, hours-of-service rules, and wellness and whistleblower protection. After years of inaction on the minimum standards, FMCSA had issued the May 2004 regulations as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by safety advocates.

Details of the two proposals will be withheld until they are published in the Federal Register.

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Responses

  1. It’s a sad shame similar legislation — and enforcement — can’t be applied to drivers of non-commercial vehicles.

    I drove a semi for a few years (to get away from my then-wife), and during that time, I can’t tell you the number of idiots I saw driving mini-vans, cars, vans, and pick-up trucks — all of whom were obviously far too sleepy, drunk, or a combination — to be on the road.

    Nose-to-nose, truckers have a much better safety records for all drivers on the road, but the hours of service ought be reduced, as a matter of safety. That is something you will get no argumen from me about, at all.

    Awake In America is focused on sleep and sleep-related issues, such as sleep deprivation, drowsy driving, and sleep disorders. Fatigued driving impacts every person sharing the road, but is a serious issue for any person behind the wheel of any motor vehicle. I won’t call all of them drivers, as there are far too many unlicensed and/or uninsured folks behind the wheel, so they are already showing their utter disrespect for safety and the laws.

  2. http://www.ooida.com/

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