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August 27, 2012 8:00 AM, EDT

Letters: Driver Turnover, Ferro Refuted

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Aug. 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Driver Turnover

As I’m sitting here waiting 14 hours to start out on my 150-mile journey, I’m pondering your thoughts on driver turnover.

Well, waiting 14 hours (10-hour break and additional four hours so I have enough hours to get to the yard) and not getting paid is reason enough for anyone to jump ship. I have spent more hours waiting this week than I have driving.

If drivers were compensated for this ridiculous amount of wasted time, it would curb the turnover. But that isn’t going to happen because trucking companies aren’t required to by law and won’t ever be required to by law.

So, let the waiting continue with subsequent turnover.

Mark Ruddle

Driver

Adair, Okla.

Ferro Refuted

Speaking at the PeopleNet User Conference on Aug. 6, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Administrator Anne Ferro reported that fatalities in truck- and bus-related crashes fell nearly 5% in 2011. That is great news that we should all celebrate.

Ferro further went on to attribute the success to the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that went into effect in December 2010.

“This [crash reduction] is a very solid demonstration of success in our efforts,” she said. “CSA is a strong enforcement program. The good news is that CSA is working. We are seeing the results from the process change we are all undertaking.”

If the federal government’s CSA program is to be credited with a 5% reduction in fatalities in 2011, who should get the credit for the 12% decline in 2008 and the 20% decline in 2009 — before CSA’s implementation?

While miles-traveled declined by 7.3% in 2009, miles were up 2.2% in 2008, so we can’t credit the recession for fewer fatalities. Fatalities per million miles, which is a better measure of safety, declined by 14% in 2008 and 15% in 2009.

The answer is obvious to all but Administrator Ferro: The government is not responsible for the decline in truck-related fatalities. The trucking industry and professional truck drivers are responsible for the tremendous safety im­provements not just since 2008, but going all the way back to the dawn of deregulation of the trucking industry.

In 1979, the last year before deregulation, 5.9 million large trucks ran 109 billion miles and were involved in 5,684 fatal crashes taking 6,702 lives — or 6.15 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled.

In 2010, 10.8 million large trucks traveled 287 billion miles and were involved in 3,261 fatal crashes claiming 3,678 lives — or 1.28 fatalities per 100 million miles.

The trucking industry, despite operating 83% more trucks running 163% more miles was involved in 43% fewer fatalities claiming 45% fewer lives — and an astounding 79% fewer fatalities per million miles. Fatalities per 100 million miles declined by a compound annual rate of 4.8% between 1979 and 2010.

Respectfully Ms. Ferro, you did not save those lives, and neither did CSA. The trucking industry and professional truck drivers saved those lives and will continue to improve highway safety with or without CSA. Falsely claiming credit for safety improvements to justify a highly flawed and criticized program is undignified and inappropriate.

The fact of the matter is that there is no correlation between CSA/SMS scores and individual carrier accident frequency. CSA’s flawed methodology and data unfairly brand more than 50% of measured carriers as less than safe. The publication of SMS scores is harming many safe truckers by taking away freight they should be hauling and is also increasing confusion and liability for shippers.

SMS scores should not be published, but should be used as originally intended — as an internal tool of the agency for deciding how to allocate its enforcement resources.

Tom Sanderson

CEO

Transplace

Dallas

Editor’s Note: In answer to our query as to the source of the statistics in his letter, Sanderson told Transport Topics, “All data regarding vehicle miles of travel and registered vehicles are courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov). All data regarding fatal crashes, vehicles involved and fatalities are courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (http://www.nhtsa.gov/FARS).”