Letters: On Platooning, Exemption Fatigue

These letters appears in the March 14 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Platooning Trucks Can Be Dangerous

While “platooning” of heavy vehicles appears to have some viability, Google’s vaunted, autonomous car recorded its first at-fault accident only last month. The reality is, platooning cannot control the actions of other motorists.

I see scenarios of motorists cutting in between the trucks, drivers of the second trucks losing situational awareness because of the limited sight distance in front, blown trailer tires from the lead truck coming through the windshield of the second vehicle, load shifting of the second truck in the event of a hard-braking situation from the forward vehicle, and on and on.

This sort of technology is diametrically opposed to every instinct a driver has — there’s a false sense of security built into this dynamic. This system actually encourages unsafe driving behavior by teaching drivers that, as long as they have technology watching out for them, they’ll be fine. Just as with the advent of all the driver­-assist technologies — such as passive braking, lane-departure warnings, anti-lock brakes — that have essentially “dumbed down” the driving experience, so, too, will platooning of trucks.

By coming to rely too much on technology, we are not teaching proper behavior behind the wheel. Personally, I see platooning as junk science. Trains belong on tracks.

To be honest, I don’t see much difference between hauling doubles and triples and platooning.

Dante Staciokas

Director for CDL Training and Testing

Lehigh Carbon Community College

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania

Exemption Fatigue

Let me begin by saying that I do understand, to an extent, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s claim that law enforcement is having a problem keeping track of all of these rules and exemption changes related to the trucking industry. However, it begs the question: How are the drivers supposed to keep track of these ever-changing regulations if inspection officers can’t?

Is CVSA claiming that the drivers should be held to a higher standard than the officers should be?

This claim comes across as a poorly executed complaint by CVSA. If the agency is going to take this position on officers, then it also should stand up for the drivers who are expected to keep track of all these regulations.

A tipping point has clearly been reached where these burdensome rules and overregulation have caused nothing but confusion for the officers and drivers.

At what point are these burdens going to turn our roads into unsafe highways? Are we as industry leaders going to wait and react to an incident that threatens human lives after the fact? Or are we going to be proactive and push back on this outrageousness now and create a safer environment for everyone — officers, drivers and the public?

Lee Koon

Director of Safety and Recruiting

Terminal Transport Inc.

St. Paul, Minnesota


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