Letters to the Editor: HOS, Crash Statistics, No Driver Shortage, Aerodynamics

These letters appear in the March 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Hours of Service

I have been driving for 46 years and have been with Roadway 25 years. I think the 11-hour rule is very good. It gives you some flexibility if you have any delays.

The 34-hour restart also works very well for drivers. You have your time off, and when you start back up, you can keep working. You don’t have to stop and wait for the clock to catch up with you.

I haven’t seen any accidents that were caused by being out there 11 hours. I think that when you want to change the rules, you need to talk to people who are out on the road.

Donnie Farris
Road Driver/Driver Trainer
Roadway Express
Blanchard, Okla.

I sure would like to know how the regulators figure that driving 11 hours instead of 10 hours helps relieve fatigue.

I have never been under as much pressure at my job as I have since they put in the new hours-of-service rules a couple of years back. On most days, you cannot stop for a break for fear of not getting home in 14 hours. (Yes, I am a regional driver who comes home every day.)

Most of the people I work with think these new rules are not working. The problem is the 11-hour driving rule and the 14 hours of total time.

Now that we can drive 11 hours, the company has given us the longer runs we were unable to make before. Hours equal miles. This is not a safe working condition and is not in anybody’s best interest but the company’s.

When I get home after a workday, I just pass out because I am so tired. I cannot begin to tell you how awful it is to come home and turn on the TV for the upcoming weather forecast, only to pass out fully dressed and wake up hours later still feeling exhausted.

This has got to stop. I only wish the people who make the rules first had to do our jobs.

Jenny Stevenson
Lemont, Ill.

Crash Statistics

I was dismayed to read that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that, in crashes involving a car and a truck, the car’s driver was at fault 56% of the time (2-18, p. 4). That means a truck driver was at fault 44% of the time.

Professionally trained, experienced truck drivers cause almost half of all car-truck crashes? That’s appalling.

Our industry cannot be proud of these statistics simply because there has been a drop in the percentage of crashes caused by truck drivers. A 44% rate should instead be a wake-up call.

Car drivers are not professionals and have typically received very little training, and most have never driven anywhere near the number of miles truck drivers have. Yet, they are driving on the same roads as the professionals. The professional driver is rightly held to a much higher standard of driving behavior and expectations — based on training and experience — than is a car driver. Given all that training and experience, we should expect a much lower percentage of crashes to be caused by professional drivers.

It is hardly surprising when an amateur makes driving errors that result in a crash. But those same errors made by a professional driver should create a huge ripple in our sense of calm. Forty-four percent is not an insignificant number, and lowering it is the transportation industry’s responsibility.

If we think professional drivers aren’t being pushed too hard, run too long or robbed of needed downtime and rest, there must be other explanations for the number of crash-causing errors by professional drivers being even this high.

I hope there will be a strong, proactive effort by the industry to address this and indicate to all that professional drivers consider causing truck-car crashes 44% of the time to be unacceptable.

I am speaking on my own behalf, and my comments are not an authorized Con-way Inc. statement.

Judy Adams
Systems Analyst/Engineer
Enterprise Transmission Services
Con-way Enterprise Services
Portland, Ore.

No Driver Shortage

Like many others writing letters to the editor, I usually comment on issues already raised and addressed, but this time I would like to offer the following upfront: There are too many drivers and not enough trucks.

Over the past six months, I have seen drastic changes in our driver recruiting efforts and constantly raise the standards bar to offset the number of new drivers we are attracting. As I write this, I have had to readjust our recruiting efforts once again.

Granted, six months is a very short time to be predicting a change, but when you look at the big picture, it’s pretty clear. I have talked with other trucking companies experiencing the same “good” dilemma.

I have maintained for years that we do not have a shortage of drivers — although we may have had a shortage of good, experienced drivers. But through our efforts, we have regularly been able to bring drivers onboard.

What we have experienced with the driver pool is that we share drivers. They go from one company to the next until they have had enough time and experience to understand the trucking industry. There are a lot of companies within this circle, and the evolution can take up to seven years. This statement is justified by the number of years of driv-ing experience in the drivers we are attracting.

I don’t see this trend changing, and, going forward, companies are going to have to readjust their corporate philosophies and business plans to accommodate the abundance of available drivers.

I think the current state of the economy also plays a big role in the number of available drivers. Many smaller companies are shutting down because they can’t continue operations with the high cost of fuel, etc. When they shut down, they leave their drivers to search for work.

The trend is reversing. For a long time, drivers have had the upper hand in employment selection and work values, and have been able to dictate to the companies how they would perform. Now the companies will be in a position to take back the reins.

I think the biggest problem helping to fuel our failed economy is one we have created with our overseas spending. By buying products other than those manufactured solely in the United States, we are helping other cultures fuel their economic growth. We need to get back to taking care of No. 1 first.

Lawrence Hartung
Director of Safety
deBoer Transportation Inc.
Blenker, Wis.


You ran a front-page article in the Feb. 18 issue of Transport Topics headlined, “International Unveils ‘LoneStar’ Aimed at Owner-Operators.”

International unveiled the LoneStar just months after it began delivering its new line of ProStar fleet trucks, which it claims are the most aerodynamic in the world. Yet Freightliner says its Cascadia is the “most aerodynamic truck on the planet.”

So which is it? How about TT doing an article on these two identical claims?

Jack Latimer
Technologies Ltd.
Loveland, Colo.

Editor’s Note: Transport Topics ran a story about the competing claims Oct. 29, 2007, p. 54.