FMCSA’s focus on inspections a point of contention at CVSA workshop

| April 23, 2013

Bulldog Hiway Express President Phil Byrd, speaking as First Vice Chair of the American Trucking Associations, delivered a salvo aimed at the national focus on roadside vehicle inspections during an April 23 General Session of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s workshop  in Louisville, Ky.

To really improve safety, Byrd said, “We must be guided by what the data tells us,” namely that “87 percent of the crashes are the result of driver error or driver behavior.” Only 10 percent of crashes, he said, can be attributed to vehicle malfunction, 3 percent to environmental factors. “Examining driver credentials is not he best way of enforcing driver behavior,” he added, calling on a shift in focus away from roadside inspections at the state level to “on-road enforcement of traffic laws.

Pointing to a slide display showing several of his Bulldog Hiway Express fleet trucks,"This represents trucks you don't need to stop," said Phil Byrd, getting a laugh from the assembled enforcement-community representatives at the CVSA Workshop in Louisville, Ky.

Pointing to a slide display showing several of his Bulldog Hiway Express fleet trucks, “This represents trucks you don’t need to stop,” said Phil Byrd, getting a laugh from the assembled enforcement-community representatives at the CVSA Workshop in Louisville, Ky.

“Coupled with some inspection activities, [such robust enforcement] is four times more effective than roadside inspections – it makes sense for us to place far more emphasis of traffic enforcement.”

Byrd presented FMCSA’s own data to show the decline in traffic enforcement actions and the rise in inspection activity over many years. “There will be some of those who say a shift will cause equipment condition to slip,” he said, “but to those I say that focusing on traffic enforcement is an appropriate direction of our resources toward improving driver behavior.”

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, however, appeared unfazed in her talk, which directly followed Byrd’s. In some sense, she said, she agreed with Byrd that a combination of robust traffic enforcement and inspections as necessary for public highway safety. Referencing 2011 fatal crash data Overdrive reported on showing a 20 percent increase “in the  number of deaths of occupants of trucks,” she said, “one third [of the dead drivers] weren’t wearing seatbelts, and more than one in four were speeding. Speeding, seat belts, fatigue, all of these continue to be big actors in crashes…. High-visibility enforcement is a critical component of influencing behavior. High-visibility enforcement and taking conviction action is important to everything we do.”

“We are determined to get those bad actors off the road and out of the business. Gone are the days when folks could reincarnate, stick a few new DOT numbers in their pocket” and keep on running. —FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro on ramped-up investigatory action at FMCSA in recent times, particularly on the bus side of the carrier population.

But so are roadside inspections, she added. Even the Driver Fitness Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category under the Compliance, Safety, Accountability regime, which has been shown not to correlate to carrier crash rates, can be utilized toward identifying unsafe carriers, Ferro said. “Three out of four [companies at alert status in that BASIC] also have an alert in another area. Compliance and accountability lead to safety, over and over again.”

Byrd also called on boosting education of and enforcement against the primary at-fault party in 70 percent of all truck-involved accidents. “Consider that 31 percent of traffic fatalities result from a driver impaired by alcohol,” Byrd said. “However, in only 2 percent of fatal truck crashes was the truck driver alcohol-impaired. Also, we know that younger drivers and older drivers have higher fatal crash rates than middle-agers. But they don’t drive trucks”as a general rule.

“Recognizing these statistics,” he added, “we must admit that focusing almost exclusively on the condition of trucks and the behavior of the truck driver will” be a mere drop in the safety bucket. “We must focus on the behavior of cars around trucks.”

EOBR update
Ferro updated CVSA attendees on the status of the electronic-log mandate Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the next step in FMCSA’s advancement of the mandate, codified into law with the MAP-21 highway bill last year.  The SNPRM could be expected in September, she said, and the ultimate rule would do four things:

  1. Requires elogs for all truck and bus carriers using paper logs today
  2. Include provisions that prohibit the devices’ use for harassment
  3. Specify device technical standards
  4. Specify the required level of supporting document retention, which would be considerably lessened compared to the paper environment.

Medical certifications and the CDL
Ferro also detailed the three components of the agency’s ongoing “driver qualification loophole shutdown initiative,” as she dubbed agency efforts to crack down on fraudulent medical certifications.  

  1. The concept of linking the medical certification to the Commercial Drivers License. “That’s in place today,” she said. “Most states have expanded their CDL/med cert efforts, but there are some states that haven’t gone far enough in enforcing that link between the CDL and the med cert.”
  2. The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The requirement for any DOT physical to performed by an examiner who has undergone certification and is in the registry is coming in May 2014.
  3. Requirement for examiners to electronically trasmit medical certification information through FMCSA to the state of record when physicals are performed.
  • No Reform

    The Immigration Reform Bill..passing thru congress Now…Sponsered by the American trucking Association will provide 11Million NEW WORKERS..legalized by the bill…many will choose TRUCKING as their New career….they will be happy to follow All these New Rules….and take the Jobs of Todays Trucker who is not Happy with all the new CSA Laws.

  • No Reform

    By year end…drivers who are Not Obedient..and Compliant will be WEEDED OUT..and replaced by Mexican immigrunts who will be Legalized by this Brand New Amnesty/Immigration Reform….these 11 Million illegal aliens will qualify to get a CDL and Take all these trucking jobs.

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  • Jimmy the Greek

    I dont know were you live but here in texas we allredy have a bunch of them , and they drive like they are still in mexico .

  • kiko kika

    how come mesilla valley transportation got a bad safety ratting but i never see any one try to question this company are they connected to politician pocket

  • Not really having fun anymore

    All of this electronic logs,Who to blame for accidents,Making
    sure that physicals are done by gov’t approved doctors,and the constant change in ‘Hours of Service’ are all ignorant ideas
    because the people in charge keep thinking this is all a safety problem when in fact the reason why drivers are out of shape,driving way to many hours and falling asleep and why we’re losing O/O’s is simple but no one seems to notice.NOBODY’S Paying enough.We’re all killing ourselves
    trying to make a buck.Plain and simple.10 12 years ago diesel
    was about 1.75 a gallon and owner op’s were getting about .85,.90 cents a mile.Today diesel is floating at about 3.75 to 4.00dollars a gal. but freight is still paying the same.Do the math.everything has been getting more expensive,tires, labor
    parts,food but not what freight pays. That’s the problem.It’s more complicated than that but that’s the simple truth.Washington need’s to wake up,grow a brain and maybe walk a 100,000 miles in our shoes.

  • joe

    most roadside inspectors don’t know their job they think the are tax collectors instead of being safety inspectors that is ferro wants more road side inspections

  • No Reform

    Amnesty Program will replace any driver who is not Obedient with the 11 Million Immigrunts.

  • Moose

    Although I agree that “on-road enforcement of traffic laws” should be kept up, all these numbers are hocus-pocus.
    We have drivers and vehicles inspected at scales all the time and 1 vehicle had a number in the registration on the truck a bit scraped so the 8 looked like a 6 (that’s what the officer said and it was not even close but how do you argue with a DOT officer?) and he gave my driver a warning to fix it.
    I look on our SAFER and there ii the warning. Under HOS…
    All bull crap…

  • busa504

    lets stop trucking for a few days and see what the fmcsa has to say

  • William McKelvie

    ATA top member making sense, Ferro jamming it up with her groovy govt double talk, more complications. Would someone PLEASE clue her in? Trucking IS NOT that complicated. SAFETY is not that complicated. All that she and her cohorts have done over the past years is add more WASHINGTON speak to the regulations and industry. And that is why we are where we are today. REAL safety taking a back seat for clerical errors on logbooks. Maybe we should give her points everytime she or someone in their offices makes a clerical mistake, then fire them when it gets to a certain point level? Grand idea!

  • michael bechara

    Amen !

  • michael bechara

    agree !

  • michael bechara

    this is so thru it’s not about safty it’s about the bank !

  • Smokin Jo

    Exactly! You know that twit Ms Ferro doesn’t have any experience on the business end of a truck. I’m not saying put the fox in charge of the hen house, but the gov’t needs people who know the industry. They do it in most every other facet of gov’t, why not here?

  • Andrea Sitler

    The evolution of the trucking industry is moving from a worker industry to a paper pushing one. While the paper may be pushed electronically; it still becoming very clerical and political. Good drivers are lost each day due to this move and the “new” driver (steering wheel holder) is the replacement.

    Roadside inspections and highway enforcement are harassment tools. Companies who will not apply for or qualify for PrePass are singled out. Truckers are targeted for enforcement on the interstates over smaller vehicles. We have all seen this over the years. This does not improve safety. It just increases the bank rolls of the state, local and fed governments. If you want real safety – work with the companies to improve their vehicles and driver habits. Use a reward system instead of a punitive one. Positive reinforcement has been proven to provide much greater results than neg. punishment.

    Let the doctor send the med card to the state. That saves the driver from having to do so. Too many drivers are getting their license suspended for not realizing they need to do this each time they re-certify.

    E-logs are coming and as with everything, there is an app for that. Big Rig is one option that is low cost for the small co or O/O. Yes, it stinks but we are living in the electronic age so we all must adapt. At least with e-logs, the retention paperwork and auditing is lesser. Sure, no more fudging on the last 15-30 minutes and a traffic jam really messes up your day (14 hr rule) but it is cut and dry if you can or cannot move the truck. No longer a card dispatch can hold over you and argue you “will run” or be fired. They will find another way to do it but at least the one with “make a new page” is gone. The constant change in HOS regs makes it difficult to keep up with when you are on the road 360 days a year. Again, I say – one size does not fit all and this is where the weakness in these regs lie.

    Since the 80s, trucker have seen a decrease in pay for the most part. This is a trend that has to change or the worker quality will continue to decline. Maybe the imports are the answer. They will work for less and know nothing but the new ways. But what happens when the next pay cut comes through? Who will replace them? This was once an industry with good pay for the worker. You had long hours but could be proud of what you did. Those days have past and I am not sure we will see them again. Hopefully companies and the gov will wise up. But only time shall tell.

  • Swamp Thang

    I beg to differ-the Gov’t does NOT put people who know an industry in charge of said department, they hand out positions to cronies and donors/political yellow dogs with NO regard to knowledge

  • Rich

    With big business running the fmsca , its more about profit than safety . Electronic logs are nothing more than bs designed to keep down the competition . You want safety , hire and and train quality drivers , instead of meat in a seat . Electronic logs don’t keep tired drivers from driving FYI Ferro . Enjoy your bribes

  • martymarsh

    ATA is fantastic when it comes to putting the blame on someone else. Everything they do is in their best interest, CR England and CRST on the board tells you tons.
    Now the big question, how much do drivers make at Bulldog?

  • martymarsh

    It’s called blacklisted and it already happened to me 3 years ago. So if these folks are not ready to work for nothing then, welcome to my world.

  • martymarsh

    I agree with everything but ATA making sense, everything they do is in their own interest, even if that means throwing you under the truck.

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  • No Reform

    YES..even as a company driver the PAY is simply too low for the increased scrutiny and confining Elogs etc.
    Celedon still pays 32CPM..the same rate for 15 years? gee..why is everybody leaving the industry…

  • No Reform

    Yep…Gov. is bureaucracy..a place to LEACH…get ur relatives a job for LIFE..these people are Self Interested Only..the trucker is the HOST…the Gov. Worker is the Parasite.

  • No Reform

    The more handcuffs they put on the trucker..the Less fun if becomes…constantly a WORRY..when will the Cop investigate…and What B.S. will he find wrong and enter into my “data File”……..orwellian Nightmare.

  • No Reform

    One Indicator of unintended consequences..that inexperienced FERRO did Not plan her driving EXPERIENCED flat bedders OUT of Trucking..and replacing these Professional Hands..with clown amateur child/truckers….we see increasingly entire Loads “falling off” flatbeds…..that section of trucking is not a place for beginners…but Annie Baby makes trucking so MISERABLE…Real Pros are leaving Fast.

  • No Reform

    yep..and the guy Donahue…is NOW the Prez of U.S. Chamber of Commerce…Was the Prez of ATA…..Today he is IN closed door sessions with the Gang Of Eight….writing up this new Immigration Reform Amnesty….along with La Raza….They plan to flood the trucking industry with these illegals Pronto.
    11million new truckers coming be trained at England and other Mega Fleets.

  • martymarsh

    I don’t care what these clowns do anymore, we are on our way down and they can’t see that. If that want to make 2 classes, the rich and the poor I don’t think they are going to like the results. This is not the America I grew up in, Washington is not the answer, they have become the problem.

  • No Reform

    So True.

  • BlueMagic

    Drivers, please tune into RoadDog Radio on your xms.. and please,, please lets make our voices heard. You know OOIDA is going to blow the whistle and when they do we should try to hold ourselves individually accountable for if we’re going to make any noise. As truckers we complain to each other all day, but we have to get these thoughts and opinions pass the ears of fellow drivers and to someone like an Ann. And many of you will say it doesn’t matter.. But you wouldn’t raise your sons to be quitters… We are our only voice. SO lets be active .
    see u on the highline


  • No Reform

    Ferro wants the “bad actors” off the road….ask he how many illegal aliens does she think MIGHT BE driving trucks in America today???

  • odiillc

    the facts about trucking…it has never paid what its worth. its not healthy. you spend most of your life alone. oneday you look up and your kids have grown and they dont know you. and same for your friends. and all of this is only if you do it right. MY QUESTION IS the people in washington know they will oneday work themselves out of a job?

  • odiillc


  • mousekiller

    Accidents. A very good thing to investigate. When the Govt and insurance companies and universities show that 85 % to 87 % of the car / truck accidents are caused by the CAR driver. How about improving that part of the equation? We are not alone on the highway and streets. We share the road with new teenage drivers with no clue to the real world. We share the road with drunks and druggies and it is always the same. We are blamed for their lack of driving skills. We are targeted as easy money. Trucking is the golden goose that states and local police depts use to gain money that is for the most part wasted on unskilled cops, poor training and allow them to enforce upon us personal vendettas and write bogus tickets they expect us to pay and do. Trucking today is more of a revenue enhancement tool.Trucking is no longer fun. It is now nothing more than a job that pays lousy. We are considered unskilled labor by the government and it is our own fault.

  • mousekiller

    Shut downs worked in the 70’s & 80’s but today drivers are afraid to stick together as it will take effort and personal conviction that is lacking in todays drivers.

    The EOBR is nothing more than a control device. It will not make our highways safer, It will not stop speeding, attentiveness, improper lane changes, fatigue, nor improve lack of driving skill nor stupidity. In my opinion it will cause the professional driver to leave the industry, It will stop most drivers from being innovative and resourcful. It will leave room for more unskilled, dumpster diver drivers that are the real reason for this FMCSA,CSA ,HOS .BS. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.