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January 9, 2012 8:00 AM, EST

Letters: HOS, Heavy Metal Helps, 2012 Safety Wish, Distracted Driving

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Jan. 9 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Hours of Service

Once again, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation has failed to put forth common sense with regards to longhaul truckers’ hours of service. I guess no one in FMCSA has ever heard of the “KISS” theory — “Keep it simple, stupid.”

Talk about idiotic rulemaking: One can only imagine what comes next — mandatory restroom breaks, perhaps, with proof that the event took place?

Our over-the-road drivers are being treated like robots who can’t think for themselves and/or control their daily routine as to what fits each best.

I guess the federal government has determined that the best judge of what is best, not only for our truck drivers but for people in general, is . . . the federal government.

The control over us out of Washington has to stop, whether the controls are in place for regulated industry or for the whole nation.

Every time some bit of ridiculous legislation for the trucking industry is passed, it affects everyone who relies on trucking to transport the commodities needed every day.

Each time new HOS regulations are put into place, it puts an immense hardship on the trucking company, truck drivers, shippers, receivers and the general public.

Regulations have gone too far. It’s now time to drive that point home. The day of reform is way overdue. If we can’t make our voices heard in Washington, it’s time to clean house.

As the old saying goes: “A new broom sweeps clean.” We just have to be sure that the broom we choose is the right one.

Lawrence Hartung

Associate Vice President, Loss Control

Kunkel & Associates Inc.

Dubuque, Iowa

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proven once again that our government is broken.

As usual, in an attempt to please everybody, they have once again managed to anger both sides of the issue. By retaining the 11th hour of driving, the safety advocates and unions are unhappy. By altering the 34-hour restart rules, they have left everyone else involved dumbfounded at the total lack of common sense.

I know — common sense and government don’t belong in the same paragraph. The simple and obvious solution to this whole strung-out affair would have been to drop the 11th hour of driving, add the 30-minute break rule and leave everything else, especially the 34-hour restart rule, alone. Then, with a reasonable rule in place, require electronic onboard recorders in all trucks.

Simple enough, but what do I know? I’m not a bureaucratic pinhead.

Mike Abbott

Owner

Abbott Enterprises Inc.

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Heavy Metal Helps

I read in the Dec. 12 issue that the fatality and injury rates for car/truck-involved crashes rose in 2010 for the first time in four years (“Truck Fatalities Rise 8.7%, NHTSA Trying to Determine Cause of Increase,” 12-12). I can’t help but wonder how much of this increase is a result of smaller, lighter, more fuel-efficient cars.

Cars have become more compact to save weight, but a lot of trucks have gone just the opposite direction with 80-inch stand-up sleepers, 15-liter engines, etc. The 2-axle, F-8 Ford tractor I drove in 1958 weighed less than 6,000 pounds. Our new Western Star 2-axle tractors weigh more than 13,000 pounds.

In a conflict between a 3,000-pound car and a 17,000-pound, 3-axle tractor, the results shouldn’t surprise anyone except the feds.

Research must be done on this hypothesis to see if it’s valid. If it is, trucks shouldn’t be made smaller — cars should be made stronger and safer.

We can use Keystone Pipeline fuel to run them.

Terry Klenske

President

Dalton Trucking Inc.

Fontana, Calif.

2012 Safety Wish

Trucking industry leaders: Please consider giving the drivers in your fleets the gift of safety with a Bluetooth headset.

The new U.S. Department of Transportation regulation concerning cellphone handset usage is effective Jan. 2, so why not help all your drivers with one of these hands-free devices?

You’ll do two things: Your fleet and owner-operator drivers will be compliant with the new rule, and the chance of your company getting a $25,000 “greeting card” mailed to you from your friends at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be greatly reduced. Not to mention that your organization will be a trendsetter by helping drivers to be properly equipped for this new law.

David Ritter

Professional Driver on Free Agency Status

Klamath Falls, Ore.

Distracted Driving

It simply amazes me that our head of the U.S. Department of Transportation will not support a total ban on cellphone use (“Truckers Risk Stiff Fines, Losing Their CDLs by Using Handheld Cellphones While Driving,” 12-5). I totally agree with the ban on cellphone use by America’s truck-driving force, but not with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s decision not to support a total ban.

Does LaHood think that just banning truck drivers from using the phones while driving is going to make our roads safer? What about the millions of people who are talking on their cellphones and driving on the same highways as these big rigs? Are these people any less distracted?

If you really want to see a difference in safety on American roadways, back a ban cellphones being used by anyone behind the wheel of a vehicle. It’s unbelievable that he cannot see this at least as a start to safer driving.

John Hill

Safety Manager

Georgia Tank Lines LLC

Doraville, Ga.