Barking up the wrong tree

| April 01, 2006

While I agree that additional training of beginner drivers would be beneficial (revising FMCSA Minimum Training Standards), I have some concerns over what type training would be best.

One of the popular ideas proposed is to mandate actual hours behind the wheel. While there could be some minimal value to BTW training, I think we are missing the point entirely. Simply teaching basic skills, i.e: backing, shifting, “riding and guiding” will do very little to address highway fatalities.

Working in the field of transportation safety for over 18 years, I believe we need to address the mental skills of safe driving more than the physical skills. It has often been said that safe driving is more a skill of the eyes and mind than the hands and feet.

Yes, it is true that BTW training could probably reduce fender benders, such as backing accidents, lane-change accidents and other minor problems, but it will not prevent fatality accidents, which is what we are trying to accomplish, isn’t it?

Let’s take the time to do it right this time and solve the root problem once and for all.
Bob Walter
Director of CDL Training
Spoon River College
Canton, Ill.


Sometimes Animal Collisions Are Unavoidable
In the article “Give Ps a Chance” in the January issue, Mr. Thayers comments that deer collisions are typical of a swivel chair jockey preoccupied by dollars on balance sheets, but without experience at where the rubber meets the road. Granted, heightened vigilance and reduced speed will avoid many animal collisions. However, when under duress, such as during drought or fire, all animals are extremely unpredictable, traveling great distances to forage and find safe haven. A terror-stricken animal, pursued by predator or hunter, will dash across a highway from total concealment, leaving even the most cautious driver with no possible escape route. In such a scenario, risking a head-on collision or rollover is not an option, with the only viable choice being to maintain lane position, taking out the animal head-on.
Robert Longmeier
Wallula, Wash.


Only the Driver Can Judge
A while back a question came to mind I never thought of before. Why do we have mandated HOS and driver logbooks? Mandated HOS and the driver logbook never have and never will be able to tell how rested a driver is. What drivers do with their nonworking time is, or should be, pretty much up to them. In reality it is the driver only who insures the driver doesn’t drive when dangerously tired, and that is exactly what responsible drivers do. We have plenty of “driver-supervising technology” in our trucks today, such as the driver logbook, electronic data engines, Qualcomm and soon the black boxes; yet none of that technology can in any way tell if a driver is rested and alert, and should or should not be driving. Only the driver knows the answer to that question.

There have been times in my driving career when I would get drowsy and need to take a short nap after driving only three or four hours, and I of course would, yet according to my logbook I could keep driving. Because of the recent HOS mandates disallowing drivers to stop the clock when stopping for a quick nap to refresh themselves, many will be forced to push on legally driving tired.

I believe the vast majority of commercial drivers are responsible and would operate safely without any HOS mandates. I also believe the HOS mandates do nothing to change the irresponsible drivers. The responsible drivers will put safety first and rest when they need to, and the irresponsible drivers won’t. The only way to truly make the roads safer is to take the unsafe, irresponsible drivers, in both cars and trucks, off the road. Having a driver’s license of any kind is a privilege, not a right, and each individual driver should be held accountable for his or her own actions.
Carroll Bean Jr.
Alburg, Vt.


Double Standard
I would like to help raise awareness of the double standards we truckers have to live with. As we all know, we are all subject to take a random drug test and alcohol breathalyzer test at any given moment. The reason is to keep the highways safer.

Wouldn’t it also be a good idea if our own government did the same? I’m talking about all congressmen, senators, judges, those appointed to write regulations and even up at the executive level. How much death and destruction could a trucker possibly cause that the government can’t accomplish through bad laws passed?

Can anyone offer a good explanation as to why congressmen can vote on a bill or a judge can preside after snorting cocaine or injecting heroin into their veins? Or how about a senator who interrogates a judicial nominee after finishing off a bottle of scotch? Maybe we’re losing the war on drugs because our own congressmen need to get their fix and won’t stop it from coming across the border.

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