Letters: Highway Safety, Safety Concerns, Belt-Tightening, Offensive Analysis, Most Expensive Gas

These Letters to the Editor appear in the June 29 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Highway Safety

I just read the article “ATA Calls for Federal Action on Highway Safety Agenda” (6-15, p. 1; click here for previous subscriber-content story).

There are some good points that should be considered, including a “graduated” commercial driver license. It makes no sense for new CDL drivers to be transporting hazardous materials, oversize loads or double and triple trailers until they have accumulated 100,000 or more accident-free miles driving a commercial vehicle.



Reducing driver fatigue is also very important, as are more places for tired drivers to rest. This issue has not been addressed as much as it should be. Several states — Virginia comes to mind first — have policies of limiting driver parking time in rest areas.

Virginia enforces a two-hour parking limit and will wake sleeping drivers. After writing the drivers citations, the officer will force fatigued drivers back on the road. 

Another issue that has not been considered seriously is that for drivers to obtain rest, they need level and quiet parking areas.

As for restricting trucks to a maximum speed of 65 mph, I think this speed limit will cause more accidents because the faster-flowing automobiles in the left lane will make it difficult and unsafe for trucks to use that lane to pass slower traffic.

If truck speeds are to be reduced, then speed limits for all vehicles also should be reduced. Any time there is a speed differential between autos and trucks, safety is reduced.

I also think the entire trucking industry would benefit greatly if all accidents were required to be reported. There are too many accidents on parking lots and at loading docks and truck stops. Many of these accidents go unreported because they happen on private property. Many of these accidents caused by unskilled and careless drivers result in thousands of dollars of damage with each occurrence and never are reported.

If these accidents were not hidden, as they now are, a true picture of a motor carrier’s safety preferences would show clearly how safe they are.

My last issue of concern is driver training. Many new CDL drivers today lack proper training. A national minimum training standard should be established.

No longer should trucking companies be allowed to run their own in-house CDL training schools that teach a new driver to drive around the block and then certify that driver for a CDL if he or she can shift a multirange transmission or not hit anything during the check ride around the block.

Companies need to screen and be more selective of whom they hire and how they train new driver employees.

Richard Marsh

President

SpecializedCarrier.Com Inc.

Pahrump, Nev.

Safety Concerns

In the editorial, “Safety Begins Behind the Wheel,” (6-15, p. 6; click here for editorial) the former head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, John Hill, is said to have stated that 88% of truck-involved accidents are the fault of either the driver of the car or the truck.

I just have to shake my head: Wouldn’t 100% of all car/truck accidents be the fault of the driver?

If you applied statistics that actually meant something, such as 75% of all truck/auto accidents are the fault of the auto driver (check the AAA study done a few years ago), or that X% of accidents are attributed to inside distractions, I could put a little more faith in the magazine and the person quoted for the article.

But I still want to know — what happened to the other 12%?

Dain Hansen

Former Driver

Lakewood, Wash.

Editor’s Note: What the editorial said was that John Hill, formerly of FMCSA, “. . . hit the nail on the head when he highlighted this fact: The driver of either the car or truck was a factor in 88% of all truck-involved crashes, according to three decades of data.” To assume that one driver or the other is always at fault is to ignore the fact that some crashes — 12% of them, apparently — are literally accidents caused by factors having little or nothing do to with who is behind the wheel, such as equipment malfunction (e.g. brake failure) and weather-related problems (e.g. high winds).

Belt-Tightening

I am really tired of all the recommendations coming out of so-called financial experts who are telling the trucking industry to tighten their belts and look for ways to survive this economy by reducing costs and improving the performance of their trucking operations.

Who are these people to imply that there is any room for another notch on the belt? Do they drive 11 hours a day, fighting traffic, deadlines, weather and fuel prices? Are these people sleeping in their trucks and sitting in weigh station lines?

Do they have to weave their way  through bureaucratic policies that dictate their every move?

Probably not.

I consider myself a trucker. My granddad was a trucker, and so was my father. I was in the broker business and now the financial services business for more than 20 years, so at least I am better qualified to speak on the subject than some of these guys.

The truth is, being in the trucking business is more than just a job. Although I would not go so far as to label it a calling, it is a near mystical experience. Being part of a proud legacy of hardworking Americans who travel the roads daily to deliver necessary goods creates a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment few other career choices achieve.

With truckers, every day starts with a goal, whether it is to make the California-to-Chicago run in fewer than three days in the middle of winter or transporting Florida produce to a distribution center before it spoils.

Not unlike Nascar, trucking is a race against the clock, the never-ending quest to beat time while playing by the rules of speed, pit stops and other vehicles on the road.

Every truck driver understands optimizing performance and reducing costs by conserving fuel and using bypass transponders to blow by most weigh stations. Most of them carry fuel cards that provide rebates and discounted fuel across the country. A whole lot of them belong to American Trucking Associations, which represents their interests in Washington when it comes to regulating the industry.

Lately, many financial institutions have withdrawn their support of the transportation industry, stranding a reliable, if not critical, partner in our economic recovery. The trucking industry is responsible for delivering food, medicine and manufactured products to every corner of the United States. Like the housing industry, truckers need practical, affordable, financial solutions for daily demands on cash flow.

So instead of implying truck drivers are not working hard enough to help themselves, we should talk about practical solutions to getting them paid for delivered loads.

John Downing

President

Freight Capital

Carlsbad, Calif.

Offensive Analysis

I take a great deal of offense to the article by Jennifer Loven of The Associated Press included in your June 1 newspaper on p. 7. [This letter writer is referring to an analysis on our Opinion page,“Obama Brings Foes Together to Agree on Emissions.”]

Please leave the information propagated by the media or White House to the rags that print them.

Present the facts and news as they relate to the industry, not propaganda submitted by the administration.

Nick Spinelli

President

Fleet Management

Consulting Corp.

Boca Raton, Fla.

Most Expensive Gas

Aloha.

In the gas prices article on TTNews.com, June 15, how can you say San Francisco has the highest gas prices in the nation at $2.99? (Click here for previous article.) The gas prices in Maui County are the most expensive even in the state of Hawaii and were $3.25 on June 15.

Now, they’ve been $3.35 for the past four days and are expected to rise again today, June 22.

Ronald Steben

Safety Specialist

County of Maui

Wailuku, Hawaii

 

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