Letters: Texting at the Wheel, Not-So-Green Rails?

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Ded. 14 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Texting at the Wheel

In a local newspaper, I recently read an editorial titled: “Truckers Should Not Be Texting While Driving.” The writer improperly quoted statistics and singled out the trucking industry as the problem.

After reading that article, I felt compelled to write a response. If my response would need a title, it would be, “When It Comes to Texting While Driving, Trucking Does Not Deserve the Blame.”

Distracted driving, texting while driving and cell-phone usage without a hands-free device create dangerous driving conditions, regardless of whether a person is behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer or a passenger vehicle.

In an effort to continue the trend of decreasing highway truck accidents, the majority of motor carriers already have instituted strict distracted-driving policies for their drivers.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s 2007 annual safety study illustrates that, since 2005, fatal accidents involving trucks have decreased by more than 20%. This same data set from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System shows that industry accidents have continued to decline into 2009. These numbers are very encouraging, given that the number of trucks on the road, as well as the total tonnage hauled, have increased, according to NHTSA data.

I believe that these trends illustrate motor carriers’ commitment to improving the safety of America’s roads. Though drivers of large trucks are 23 times more at risk of a distracted-driving accident, at 8% they currently make up the lowest percentage of accidents, with the remaining percentage being spread among the NHTSA’s other four transportation categories studied.

Therefore, it is unfair to single out any one industry or mode of transportation in any legislation limiting the use of cell phones in vehicles. If such legislation is created, it should apply to all motor vehicles and not just to one segment of the driving public.

Myron Rau
South Dakota Trucking Association
Sioux Falls, S.D.

Not-So-Green Rails?

From this week’s “Opinion” column — “In Defense of Rail’s ‘Green’ Advantage” (12-7, p. 5; click here for previous piece) — this statement should be retracted:

“The study also confirmed that fuel savings from shipping by rail can be huge. For example, one scenario involving a shipment from Los Angeles to Chicago found that moving the freight by rail instead of by truck saved more than 80,000 gallons of fuel.”

Eighty-thousand gallons of fuel?

All we handle for Landstar is intermodal rail. I know a little about rail and being green: I was interviewed for a Feb. 6, 2009, article on Manufacturing.net’s Management News Now, titled “Intermodal Transportation, a Green Way to Ship.” The statement is very misleading, if not inaccurate.

Robert Bomba
Landstar Global Logistics
JEM Transportation
Fords, N.J.


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