Letters: Truck Fatality Spike, Sen. Schumer & GPS
These Letters to the Editor appear in the March 25 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
Truck Fatality Spike
In the issue for the week of Jan. 21, there was an article titled “Speed, Lack of Seat Belts Cited by U.S. in Truck Fatality Spike.” It seems that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is puzzled by the increase in deaths year over year.
As far as speed and the lack of seat belts causing fatalities, that is only the half of it. The reason for the increase is that the older, experienced drivers are dying off and being replaced by younger, inexperienced drivers who just got out of driving school.
The main cause of fatalities, however, is driving too fast for conditions. Most drivers don’t slow down for anything. For construction zones, exit ramps, secondary roads, rain, heavy traffic, fog, accidents and/or snow — it’s full speed ahead.
Tailgating also is a cause: You are supposed to stay two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you, but 90% of the drivers are about a half-second behind the truck in front of them.
Why are these drivers in such a big hurry? Because they are being paid by the mile, and the faster they go, the more money they make.
Have Congress pass a law that all drivers are paid by the hour. You will cut the accidents by half.
Sen. Schumer & GPS
I am a local truck driver in New Jersey. I read an article about U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and his opinion about truck GPS units in the September issue of a trucking magazine. Sen. Schumer is calling for federal standards for truck GPS units to help mitigate what he sees as a growing number of bridge-strike accidents in his state, New York. Needless to say, the information in that article upset many drivers.
The issue with the false clearance heights is no longer a minute issue, and drivers, as well as anyone associated with truck driving, should not keep silent on this matter. In addition to drivers, it affects transportation companies, shippers and receivers, the residents of New York City and everyone who lives near it.
Driving a tractor-trailer in New York City is like navigating through a minefield. And whether you use one GPS unit or multiples at the same time, it’s still a nightmare.
I recently saw a YouTube video from a guy who was expressing his concerns about making deliveries to New York City and the difficulties he had completing the trip.
It was a great video, and that Schumer article was his focal point. Since the video was posted, I have written Sen. Schumer an e-mail expressing my concerns and sharing my opinions, which I believe would lessen the headache for New York and for drivers making deliveries and/or pickups.
If Sen. Schumer truly is concerned about trucks hitting the low clearances, he will want to listen to what I have to say — especially because fewer and fewer drivers are willing to go to NYC and there is going to come a time when it will be hard for NYC to get freight in and out.
This brings me to the reason why I am writing to Transport Topics. I want to tell you about what I — and, I am sure, other drivers — are doing to help remedy the situation.
I don’t think Sen. Schumer is going to pay much mind to my letter, but if others stand with me on this pressing issue, we can force the city officials to make some kind of realistic change that would benefit both the state of New York and the truck drivers. And I’m wondering if you would consider helping me to rally other drivers to flood the senator’s e-mail with letters.
This issue has gone way beyond the concerns of truck drivers. Here’s why this issue should be everyone’s problem:
• Shippers and receivers can’t get freight in and out.
• Drivers fear losing their licenses.
• Transportation companies will have to pay higher costs on repairs.
• Few drivers will be willing to go to New York City.
• Residents of New York will be delayed in traffic from tractor-trailers hitting low clearances.
Please stand with those who drive America.
Local Truck Driver