‘Still not listening’: Readers react to FMCSA’s hours study

| February 04, 2014
"If FMCSA has made changes to the hours of service that improve safety, then why did the NTSB recommend that Congress audit their entire program?" --James Getten, commenting on FMCSA's hours impact study via Overdrive's Facbook page

“If FMCSA has made changes to the hours of service that improve safety, then why did the NTSB recommend that Congress audit their entire program?” –James Getten, commenting on FMCSA’s hours impact study via Overdrive‘s Facbook page

Those who’d rather not live with the 34-hour restart limitations and 30-minute mandatory break hoped for favorable results from FMCSA’s long-awaited real-world impacts study of the hours of service changes. It’s release disappointed, to say the least. 

“I think the ones who really need to be held compliant for keeping proper log documentation are our elected officials or legislators who dream up these schemes,” wrote Jim Stewart under news about the study when it came out last week, channeling the ongoing frustration of opponents of the hours changes. “It appears they may be keeping late hours within the Beltway and not getting their proper rest breaks. As a result, they’re making irrational decisions that impact the livelihoods of thousands who deliver the nation’s goods. Somehow common sense gets checked in along with coats and hats before Congress convenes in chambers…”

One Congressman, Richard Hanna of New York, sponsor of the TRUE Safety Act to roll back the hours changes pending an independent study of its impacts, apparently hears drivers’ concerns well enough, wrote William McKelvie. “Hanna is right,” said the owner-operator, to call the study virtually “worthless,” as was reported. “But [FMCSA] does not listen to him either,” McKelvie added. 

Hanna vowed to continue the push to get a more independent look at the real-world impacts from the Government Accountability Office “so we can get a credible account of what this rule will truly mean for the safety of truckers, commuters and businesses,” as he was quoted in this story

Would FMCSA listen to the GAO?

Related

CSA scoring is faulty, unfair for small carriers, GAO report says

The scoring system used by FMCSA in its Compliance, Safety, Accountability system is flawed and is made up of an incomplete data set, particularly for ...

It bears asking. GAO released just yesterday a look at problems associated with the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) enforcement program, many of which we’ve detailed in depth over the last year. Here’s FMCSA’s response to that report, as told to Overdrive‘s Kevin Jones: “While we are always looking for ways to improve our safety oversight methods, and will carefully consider the GAO’s latest recommendations, research shows that CSA is already more effective at identifying motor carriers with a greater risk of crashing than the system we replaced in 2010.”

Such selective focus on the positive won’t get us any closer to a safer, more flexible alternative to the current hours regs.

Related

Talk of the road: House bill to hold hours changes

For bill supporters, key to convincing lawmakers to sign on to the effort may well be showing the economic impact of the new rule.

Meanwhile, a “Drivers for the TRUE Safety Act” Facebook page has sprung up. You can find it via this link. 

More voices on FMCSA’s hours study:
Douglas Morton: It only cost me about $500 a week in lost wages and threw my whole system off balance. Been driving more than 40 years the old way with no problems. Now people who don’t drive trucks or work for a living tell me I’m wrong. One recordable accident in that time, long haul and local.

Commenting as “Dave”: I bet if I paid for that study I’d get a different outcome. 

Ed Wolf: I am so glad that they came out with this “study” since for more than 40 years and somewhere near 3,500,000 miles I have been doing it all wrong and unsafely. I guess that I was just lucky that after all that time I didn’t kill, maim or simply crash myself into someone. Thank you to all the powerful and all knowing and obviously highly educated individuals that dreamed up this fiasco to save the world. I am so glad that I will retire soon. 

Shawn McConniel: Again, people making uninformed decisions for truckers…. Let’s discuss the 14-hour rule that [leads to more people driving] while drowsy. I say bring back the old sleeper rule.

Bob Hearns: I’m with you on the old sleeper rule, Shawn. I knew they were uninformed decision makers as soon as the 14-hour rule was instituted. 

Ron C.: What the study doesn’t show is the stress that has been put on all drivers. All drivers, whether independent or company, are now being forced to drive … with rush-hour traffic, likewise the financial stress of costing more time and money to make your delivery and that load you miss each week. 

Weigh in yourself by dropping us a comment below or join the discussion via our Facebook page

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  • Jason Haggard

    When the FMCSA and Anne Ferro are not required to answer to anyone then it makes it difficult to act. There needs to be a complete investigation of the FMCSA as a whole.

    That agency has fabricated statistics, carefully extracted favorable cross sections of other statistics that supported their needs and continued to do everything short of calling professional drivers a bunch of lying idiots who don’t know how to be safe without the FMCSA telling them how.

    To further promote the insanity you have organizations that claim to represent owner operators and drivers who make a major deal about Anne Ferro going for an overnight ride in a truck on a prearranged load and under conditions that are nothing like the conditions faced by the average driver out there today. They were busy talking up how wonderful it was of her to “find out what its really like”. I guess they have lost touch with reality and are more concerned with collecting their annual membership dues and pandering to the government instead of fighting for drivers like they claim……are you listening OOIDA? I didn’t think so.

  • Shawn McConniel

    Most accidents happen while drowsy or forcing driver to drive during peak hours of day cause of the 14 hour rule. I use to run Up PA MD area and go around DC. on old rules cause I knew I could park catch a nap while rush hour was going on. With new rule made me drive in that bad traffic with the morons in 4 wheelers I said not for me they can get their freight from some other idiot will not be me

  • JERICO Way

    Thank God we (husband/wife 40 yr team) retired from this MESS in July 2013! We could see the proverbial writing on the wall, therefore, we opted out.

    How can 116 people be a qualified study to determine HOS, when our very own trusted physicians are not “qualified” enough to do a simple physical without being required to be certified by the DOT? Imagine that, the DOT makes the decision that our doctors, whom we trust to do surgery on us, are not qualified enough for them! However, the DOT feels that 116 supposed drivers can tell them about the safety of the HOS.

    That study was a complete farce. Thankfully, we can now sit back and watch the show begin. When our highly qualified drivers have finally gotten enough, we will be left with those morons we have all seen on the roads in recent years to take over trucking.

    For example: while traveling Westbound on I-10 through Baton Rouge, LA, late one night, two ignorant drivers pulling sets of doubles, right up in each others’ DOT bumpers, in the left lane, while there was a DEADLY HazMat tanker (scull and bones) in the right lane, with us safely behind him, in that very deadly curve, passed us and the tanker. When we told them that was not a good choice, we were told to drive our truck, and they will drive theirs. We said to ourselves, “hopefully, we won’t lose our lives tonight because if anything were to happen, many people in Baton Rouge were surely to die that night, which included all of us.”

    The only thing we can say, please don’t be late with our products we consume!

  • Carl Forfun

    The only way things will change is if we get these Dumbocrats out of office. All they look for is a reason to build more government control.

  • https://www.facebook.com/CREEP.org?ref=hl Mark Richardson

    The most amount of sleep that I ever got when I was tired over the 30 years that I drove semis (1979-2009) was the original 11/14 HOS rule revision when the split sleeper break was still legal.

    With the original split sleeper break I could work all day making deliveries in Chicago or Detroit then take a nap from 4-7 PM, and miss evening rush hour and all of its less than productive high-stress operating environment, and then I could still get in several hours of road driving after my nap when the highways were less-crowded and feel safe and alert-enough to operate.

    I would then sleep from 11-6 and do it again the next day. I can’t believe that the FMCSA finds it safer to force 10 million truckers tired after working all day to fight it out in afternoon rush hour with all of the tired day-shift workers heading home and all of the soccer moms in huge rush themselves who together clog up our nation’s highways every afternoon.

    The least amount of sleep that I ever got when I was tired was any HOS rule after the split sleeper break was eliminated. I will agree with FMCSA policy that the intent of the restart provision probably was not to increase total possible driving hours above the 70-hour in 8-day limit that had been in-effect under the previous 10/15 rule but this illustrates unintended new policy consequence.

    Today another unintended consequence of new policy forces more truckers to be on the highway outside of the 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM time frame, which is a tough time of day for those of us on a daytime schedule but a normal time of day for those of us on a night schedule, many of whom have operated safely at that time of night for many years. Could this unintended policy consequence also cause more congestion-type accidents trying to prevent fatigue-type accidents?

    Many years ago the safety of the trucking industry was judged on a fatalities per 100 million miles operated by the industry standard, and between 1979 and the mid-1990s that standard had improved by 65%. Alas, as our economy and nation has grown, there are approximately twice as many trucks on the highway as in 1979, running more mileage average per truck due to higher speed limits than in 1979 when the entire nation was subject to the 55 mph national speed limit then in-effect.

    In 1979, the worst year in US history for truck accident fatalities, there were 6,702 fatalities (US-DOT) among the 5.89 million heavy trucks in operation that year, which ran 109 billion miles. By 1995, the sheer number of fatalities had been reduced to 4,903, despite the fact that the number of heavy trucks was up by 16.9% and miles operated was up by 59% due in-part to the increase in speed limit from 55 mph to 65, 70, or even to 75 mph in many States.

    During the same 1979-1995 time frame passenger car registration increased by 21% and light truck and van registrations more than doubled, Passenger car mileage was up by 34.8% and light truck and van mileage was up by 227%. Also according to this report, the largest single-cause improvement to truck fatalities were the national recessions in 1979-1980, 1981-1983, and 1990-1991, as well as the oil patch recession in 1985-1986.

    (Data from Trends in Large Truck Crashes, US-DOT HS 808-890, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809-690.PDF)

    Fast forward to today and according to FMCSA Secretary Ferro’s letter to Congress there are 10.7 million heavy trucks on the road today now five years after the worst recession since the Great Depression, and yet using her own figure of 11 heavy truck fatalities per day, there were 4015 truck accident fatalities in 2013.

    If the mileage operated per registered heavy truck was the same as in 1995, and there has been a 55.5% increase in heavy truck registrations since 1995, or an 81.6% increase since 1979. (I would argue that due to State speed limit increases since 1995 that individual vehicle miles would have increased by at least 15-20% since 1995 too).

    So sheer heavy truck fatalities are down from 6,702 in 1979 to 4,015 today despite an 81.6% increase in the number of registered heavy trucks and a per-registered vehicle mileage increase of approximately 72-75% over the same period.

    Secretary Ferro fails in her alarmist assessment to Congress to mention the fact that the largest single cause decrease in trucking industry sheer fatalities is national recession, and even after the alleged 13% increase in heavy truck fatalities between 2009 and 2013, due entirely to economic recovery since 2009, the industry as a whole today is operating 81.6% more trucks than in 1979, 284% more mileage than in 1979*, at a 40% reduction in sheer fatalities since 1979. and a 79% reduction in the key fatalities per hundred million miles traveled statistic previously used by the US-DOT to measure the industry’s safety by.

    * Including an estimated 15% increase in total heavy truck vehicle miles traveled since 1995.

    It sounds to me like Secretary Ferro should be profuse in her appreciation for a job well done by the industry in improving safety rather than trying to alarm anyone as there is no problem to report when we use a full statistical set rather than an unfair cherry-picked statistic without stating what context it came from and why sheer trucking industry fatalities are down during recessions.

    It also sounds to me that perhaps Secretary Ferro is trying to justify her budget and/or a budgetary increase by using a cheery-picked statistic that shows something other than the truth about heavy truck safety, and I also have to wonder by how much Secretary Ferro’s cherry-picked irresponsible statistic has inflamed motorist tensions and the incidence of car on truck road rage too?