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 Trucking Safety (14)
Technical Communications Manager
National Sleep Awareness Week is currently being observed in the US (March 5-11, 2012). According to the National Sleep Foundation 2012 poll--the first to ask transportation professionals about their sleep habits and work performance--11% of pilots, train operators, and bus/taxi/limo drivers, and 8% of truck drivers are "sleepy." Read the press release.
The poll also found that 14% of truck drivers, and 12% of bus/taxi/limo drivers polled reported having had a "near miss" due to sleepiness. Although individuals' sleep needs vary, most research assumes that normal adults sleep for 7-8 hours per night.
In NHTSA's "Drowsy Driving and Automobile Crashes" report, shift-workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night, or working long or irregular hours, are categorized as being one of the three population groups at highest risk for "drowsy-driving" crashes. According to the National Sleep Foundation 2012 poll, a significant number of the transportation workers said their schedules do not allow enough time for sleep.
Senators Pryor (D-AR) and Alexander (R-TN) Introduce New Electronic On-board Recorder (EOBR) Legislation
Principal Technical Analyst, MSC of MS
US Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced new legislation on March 31, 2011 that would require the installation of Electronic On-board Recorders (EOBRs) in commercial vehicles to document drivers' compliance with Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules.
The March 31 press release indicates that the Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act will require the EOBRs to be tamper-resistant, identify the vehicle's operator and record driving time, communicate with the Engine Control Module (ECM), provide real-time location recording, and allow for the data to be accessed by law enforcement in roadside inspections.
Senators Pryor and Alexander's new legislation aims at enforcing HOS rules more effectively and accurately. In the press release, Pryor said, "The trucking industry faces the constant balancing act of keeping fatigued drivers off the road while ensuring stores are full of merchandise. After several meetings with the trucking industry and Senate hearings on highway safety, I believe the most effective solution is to require the use of electronic on-board recorders."
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced at yesterday’s second national Distracted Driving Summit that the federal government is initiating a new rulemaking to limit commercial truck drivers’ use of all electronic devices while hauling hazardous materials, as well as seeking to ban text messaging by all drivers hauling hazardous materials.
These announcements came on the heels of last week’s proposed rulemaking submitted to the White House for final review, which would prohibit all truck drivers from texting while driving. It is likely that this rule will be published in the Federal Register as early as next week, in which case the rule would take effect in late October.
Less-than-truckload (LTL) Con-way Freight recently invested $5.4 million toward the installation of several advanced safety technologies into 1,300 new Freightliner Cascadia 2010-model tractors, which the carrier has put into service. Con-way’s goals for incorporating the safety technologies are to reduce the frequency of accidents and the accident situations that trucks are most commonly involved in. They are also aiming to minimize driver distraction.
Examples of the technologies Con-way has installed include a forward collision warning technology with adaptive cruise control, developed by Meritor Wabco, to help with maintaining a safe following distance and to help with avoiding rear-end collisions by braking as needed. The lane departure warning system, developed by Iteris, monitors the vehicle’s lane position and sounds an alarm when the vehicle’s operator unintentionally moves out of the lane. The roll stability control, also developed by Meritor Wabco, senses when the vehicle is at high risk of a rollover and automatically intervenes. And in order to help minimize driver distraction, Con-way implemented factory-installed, in-dash AM/FM/satellite radios in place of portable radios. This means drivers have one fewer distraction to content with behind the wheel.
"With the anticipated release of FMCSA's Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative and the potential for stricter safety regulations for truck drivers and trucking companies, Con-way Freight is proactively pursuing a high-tech approach to safety," said Bob Petrancosta, the company's vice president of safety. Petrancosta also stated that Con-way was very pleased to work with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) in the year of testing and research that went into the implementation of the technologies which can provide “real-world, lifesaving results.”