Principal Technical Analyst
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released research this week on the benefits of using speed limiters (SLs), also known as speed governors, in large trucks. For more information, view the FMCSA's document, titled "Speed-Limiters."
SLs are a technology that allows trucking fleets or truck owners to program a preset maximum speed of travel. Many trucking fleets use SLs not only to increase safety by reducing their trucks’ top speed, but also to reduce tire wear, extend the life of the brakes and engine, improve fuel economy, and so on.
In January 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed limiting the speed of all heavy trucks to 68mph. NHTSA stated its intent to initiate the rulemaking process on this issue in 2012. Read NHTSA's notice in the Jan. 3, 2011 Federal Register.
Viewpoints differ on the issue of mandating the use of SLs in heavy trucks. Agencies and groups such as the American Trucking Associations (ATA), Road Safe America, and the Truckload Carriers Association, have stated their support for SLs in large trucks for reasons including reduced severity of crashes and various economic benefits. However, critics of government-mandated SLs, such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), have stated their opposition for reasons such as the potential for speed-governed trucks to become “rolling roadblocks” when operating in faster flows of traffic.
Research published in the American Journal of Public Health in March 2009, titled “The Effect of State Regulations on Truck-Crash Fatalities,” examines the effects of certain traffic safety policies and restrictions on fatality rates in truck-involved crashes.
Entries in Commercial Drivers (14)
Principal Technical Analyst
On January 19, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a notice to drivers holding a commercial drivers license (CDL) regarding new requirements for medical certification.
Starting on 30 January 2012, the FMCSA will require that all drivers who hold a CDL present their local state driver licensing agency with information regarding the type or types of commercial driving that they are involved with.
The commerce categories are:
- interstate excepted,
- interstate non-excepted,
- intrastate excepted,
- intrastate non-excepted.
Drivers who are determined by state licensing agencies to operate in one of the non-excepted categories will be required to submit a medical examiner’s certificate to their state driver licensing agency. Once this certificate is submitted, it will become part of the driver’s CDL system record. Drivers who fall into one of the “excepted” categories will not be required to provide a medical examiner’s certificate.
Drivers who fall into either non-excepted categories who fail to provide a current medical examiner’s certificate will have a status of “not certified.” The consequences of having a “not certified” status will depend on the specific regulations of the state that issued the CDL; however, in many cases, this status will result in the loss of the commercial license. For example, a driver who falls into a non-excepted category and fails to submit a current medical examiner’s certificate in Alabama will have his or her CDL cancelled. View state-by-state instructions and information.
Session Three of the SAE 2011 Highway Vehicle EDR Symposium has five speakers who are trucking safety professionals discussing their and their companies' experience with Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) and various Event Data Recorder (EDR) systems.
The first speaker after lunch was Jerry Waddell from Cargo Transporters. Mr. Waddell discussed their positive experience with Critical Event Reporting, especially in notifying management of hard brake events.
The second speaker is Brett Graves from Maverick Transportation. Maverick Transportation is using predictive modeling to enhance the safety of their fleet. Their predictive models have greatly reduced their reportable and preventable rates per million miles.
The third speaker is Michael Baker from Usher Transport. Usher Transport has had ONLY FIVE rollovers in the 27 years that Mr. Baker has been there in safety. WOW!!! Some statistics from his presentation: 1/5 rollovers have two contributing factors: inattention & drowsiness. 1/5 rollovers results from excessive cornering speed. Lowering a trailer three inches increases stability by 10%. More stats: freeway off-ramps account for 7% of rollovers; interstate highways account for about 31%. State highways account for the remaining 68%. Forty-seven percent of rollovers result from lane departures. Only 9% result from cornering too fast.
The fourth speaker is James Burg of James Burg Trucking Company (JBTC). JBTC uses Drivecam Video Event Recorders and hauls normal and oversized loads. JBTC uses Drivecam as a training tool and also in incident and crash investigations. It has helped with company policy compliance, driving safety, and driver training. JBTC really works to make their drivers better drivers.
The fifth speaker is Sam Faucette from Old Dominion Freight Line. Old Dominion is the largest LTL carrier using EOBRs. They use a list of several variables that are monitored in order to evaluate safe, efficient operations. Like the other companies, they are turning "data" into useful information.
All five companies represented have one thing in common. They view safety as a human issue and rely on the EDR systems as tools to help the safety manager make good decisions and improve driver performance. Although they use different techniques and different tools, they are all focused on developing high quality, well-trained, professional drivers.
Principal Technical Analyst
The US Department of Transportation (US DOT) announced on May 27 that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and its local and state law enforcement agencies conducted over 3000 surprise passenger bus inspections during a two-week period in May. These inspections resulted in 442 out-of-service citations for 127 drivers and 315 passenger transport vehicles. Additionally, the FMCSA and state safety inspectors launched 38 full safety compliance reviews of commercial passenger bus companies.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, “During this heavy summer travel season, we will remain alert and remove from our roads any passenger bus or driver that places motorists at risk.” According to the US DOT, over the last five years, the number of unannounced commercial passenger bus roadside safety inspections and carrier compliance reviews has doubled. To learn more about this, read the US DOT news release.
In an effort to reduce all commercial motor vehicle crashes, the FMCSA has developed a new safety program called Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA). CSA includes a Safety Measurement System (SMS), which uses crash data and inspection results to identify unsafe motor carrier companies, including passenger carriers. The SMS system evaluates seven different safety performance categories, or BASICs (Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Categories). These are: Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service), Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo-Related, and Crash Indicator.
The US DOT estimates that passenger carriers or buses transport 750 million people each year in the US. The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that there were 221 bus-involved fatality crashes in 2009. The number of bus-involved fatality crashes has dropped steadily since 2006, when there were 305 fatality crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a substantial decline during 2009 in the number of drivers and vehicle occupants who were killed or injured in crashes involving large trucks (i.e., trucks over 10,000 pounds).
Last month, NHTSA released an Early Edition of Traffic Safety Facts, an annual publication containing a compilation of highway crash statistics. According to the Early Edition of Traffic Safety Facts 2009, 3,380 drivers and occupants were killed in crashes with large trucks, and 74,000 drivers and occupants were injured.
These numbers seem large until one considers that the Federal Highway Administration has estimated that large trucks traveled a staggering 288 BILLION miles on US roadways during 2009. That equals a fatality rate of 1.17 persons killed per 100 million miles of truck travel, and 25.7 persons injured per 100 million miles.
In 2009, fatalities and injuries declined substantially from 2008, when NHTSA estimated that 4,245 people were killed and 90,000 were injured, and the fatality rate per hundred million miles was 1.37.