Political Correctness VS. Common Sense
The above stats reflect some interesting conclusions about the “for hire” segment of long-haul trucking and the lack of good, old-fashioned common sense.
Though fatigue is not in the top ten factors for crash causation, much of FMCSA’s energy has been directed at the hours of service (HOS), electronic logging devices (ELD’s), a forced 30-minute break every eight hours in a shift (which has the effect of making the already obnoxious 14-hour rule into a tighter window of 13 hours), and the 1:00 AM to 5:00 AM mandate within the already functioning 34-hour restart. Almost all of the rationale imposed comes from the hyperbole provided by safety groups (PATT, MADD, CRASH, and Public Citizen), undue influence imposed by Circadian rhythms and sleep doctors, and the large mega fleets that need to buy safety numbers because their driver turn-over rates are north of 100%. The agency (FMCSA) has failed miserably in their attempts to satisfy the needs of their large company cronies with the imposition of large company friendly technology on all carriers of all types and size. CSA, ELD’s, governed trucks, the certified medical examiners registry, and the restart debacle are just a few examples of an uneducated, misdirected, and out-of-control regulatory agency.
Please note the trend on fatalities per 100 million miles from 1975 to 2015 – an amazing 500% reduction in fatalities! This trend bottomed out in 2010 and has slowly reversed since then. Coincidently, 2010 is when CSA came out, followed by the avalanche of regulatory changes over the past six years. Almost all of these regulatory fixes have been the collective product of the lobbying efforts of the aforementioned three groups and a willing co-conspirator, the FMCSA.
Please note the following:
• Trucks moved 72.5% of all US freight tonnage in 2013
• There are only 1,440 fleets with more than 100 power units in the for-hire sector – there are 439,600 fleets from 1 power unit to 99. So, literally 99.99% of for-hire carriers have fewer than 100 trucks. This represents the NASTC niche.
• Over the past two decades, in 75-80% of the truck/car accidents, the car is at fault, not the truck.
• Tolls increased 18%
• Insurance increased 11%
• Maintenance increased 5%
• It appears that a commonly held premise is that trucks and drivers should be forced to drive during the daylight hours to satisfy drivers’ Circadian rhythms. The opposite should be the safety goal.
• We know that density and differential speeds between trucks and cars both increase the odds for more accidents and yet both of these factors increase with the current HOS, the 1:00AM to 5:00 AM restart requirement, and especially so, with mandated speed limiters.
• The result of the certified medical examiners registry is fewer doctors (MD’s), more nurse practitioners and chiropractors, zero truck parking, a shortage of CME’s in small town America, and discriminatory and reckless disqualification of safe, experienced drivers based on erroneously applied “guidance” in the training of those CME’s via the use of STOP BANG protocol. This has resulted in the disqualification of million mile safe drivers with years of safety experience through false positives for apnea via the use of hyper apnea/hypopnea indices (AHI’s), age discrimination, gender discrimination, and poor DOT examination training in general. The protocol even discriminates against short people with absurd bench marks for body-mass-index, and neck sizes. This “bull in a China Shop” regulatory behavior under the guise of guidance begs for a class action suit for those drivers whose lives have been turned upside down by false positives.
• During this six year period from 2010 when CSA was put into play, The Administrative Procedures Act has been disregarded, studies and data have been manipulated, and cost/benefit analyses have been laughable in their overreach and lack of justification. It’s telling that in benefit studies the projected value of a life has grown from $1,000,000 to over $9,000,000 in the last decade, relative risk has been accepted as valid although it’s statistically unsupportable, and standard deviations have been ignored. By its own study, the ELD mandate will save 19 lives based on a projected 4,000 + lives annually lost – this falls way below the most minimal standard deviation, is statistically insignificant, and as a justification for mandated ELD’s, should have no basis.
• A proposal in Congress for a 600% increase on minimal insurance coverage for trucking companies was actually considered despite the fact that only 1% of claims exceed the now current level of $750,000 and the marketplace has somewhat adjusted that minimum in that most shippers and brokers require a $1,000,000 minimum in coverage.
This regulatory assault on the trucking industry is unwarranted, misguided, and destructive, particularly to those 439,600 companies, their families, and their drivers, who represent 99.9% of the business entities in the for-hire, longhaul sector.
The discriminatory and damaging impact of the curse of small numbers could very well wreak havoc with the backbone of our distribution system that moves 72.5% of all US freight tonnage – and sadly, all based on the misguided and erroneous premise that small carriers and owner-operators represent the bulk of the safety threat when in fact, the opposite is true. Mega-fleets may have more compliance technology, spend much more money on safety, but unfortunately, their higher turnover rates will always impede them from finding, hiring, and retaining experienced and safe drivers.
The safest and most profitable business entity in for-hire, long-haul trucking is the one-guy, one-tractor, one-trailer, owner-operator – the very business entity that is threatened by independent contractor legislation that could eventually eliminate that model. Brother Dave Gardner, the old southern comedian, posed the question: “What are all the preachers gonna do when the devil is saved”? We heard for years from Anne Ferro the FMCSA Administrator for over a decade, “that she would not rest until there were zero deaths from truck/car accidents” and now we’re hearing the same inane drivel from Deborah Hersman, the head of The National Safety Council that we’ll have zero deaths by 2030. She continuously compares the zero death rate with commercial aircraft over the past seven years as an example of what can be done. I’m worn out with comparing trucking to other modes of transportation, particularly when it comes to safety. I have one question for both Anne and Deborah – “If 75% of the accidents are caused by cars, not trucks, how will zero deaths ever be achieved without addressing “civilian” safety through regulation”?
And, who is FMCSA going to harass and regulate after trucks and drivers are saved?
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