* New York - More people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years
-- Accidents like the one that critically injured the comedian Tracy Morgan, killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair, and hurt eight others on the New Jersey Turnpike last year are going to continue to happen unless Congress stops coddling the trucking industry. And still Congress continues to do the trucking industry’s bidding by frustrating the very regulators the government has empowered to oversee motor carriers... In recent months, Congress has pursued a number of steps to roll back safety improvements ordered by federal regulators... All of these concessions to the trucking industry have gained traction in Congress even though the industry has consistently resisted safety improvements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost to the economy of truck and bus crashes to be $99 billion... The crash involving Tracy Morgan shows why Congress needs to toughen its oversight of trucking, not loosen it. The driver who caused the crash was in a modern 18-wheeler that was well maintained and managed, owned and operated by Walmart. As detailed in the causation report on the crash released earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the driver had been on duty for about 13 and a half hours; federal rules allow a 14-hour workday. About a mile before the crash, the driver ignored work-zone warning signs on the New Jersey Turnpike of likely delays ahead. About a half-mile later, the posted speed limit dropped to 45 m.p.h. from the usual 65, which the driver also ignored... Mr. Morgan’s Mercedes van was moving at less than 10 mu.p.h. because of the construction. The truck driver, fatigued and slow to react, according to the N.T.S.B., was unable to stop in time, and slammed into the van, turning it on its side and jamming the passenger door closed. According to the board, if the driver had slowed to 45 when warned to do so, he should have been able to stop before crashing. But before his official work day began, the driver, the board found, had spent 12 hours driving his own vehicle from his home in Georgia to pick up his truck at a Walmart facility in Delaware, and had been awake for 28 consecutive hours at the time of the crash... The trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economic well-being — it carried almost 69 percent of all domestic freight last year — and its executives have done an excellent job in keeping costs down. But Congress must make it clear to all parties that safety has to be a higher priority than penny-pinching... Congress must pass a comprehensive highway funding bill and ensure that safety regulators have sufficient resources and political support to do what must be done in order to reduce the continuing carnage on our highways...
(Photo Credit, by Harry Campbell) -- NY, USA - The NYT, by HOWARD ABRAMSON - Aug. 21, 2015
* REPLY: Note to disgruntled former trucking editors: Trucks are not killing us
-- Over the weekend, an op-ed piece titled The Trucks are Killing Us appeared in The New York Times. The piece was written by Howard Abramson, a past executive at the American Trucking Association (ATA) whose primary duty was to act as editor of Transport Topics magazine... The idea that trucking today is an under-regulated, out-of-control industry hell-bent on delivering goods — cost and civilians be damned — is so out of date as to be laughable. It was a fair bit of criticism back when you could buy a black Trans Am to run interference while your buddy ran a load of Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta. Not so much today... Trucking is, in fact, in the middle of the greatest wave of new regulations and mandated safety devices that this industry has ever seen. This very week, in fact, we’re expecting a new mandate on speed limiters. Likewise, new rules to mandate electronic logging devices is expected in the coming weeks. And numerous other proposals are also being looked at, including mandatory lane-departure warning systems, tire-pressure management systems and collision avoidance systems, to name a few... The bottom line here is this: Trucking is getting safer all the time. And that trend is accelerating rapidly. It’s getting harder every day to skirt the rules. Bad actors are leaving this industry because they know that soon, they’re going to have to follow the exact same rules as everyone else. They’ll have no choice in the matter... Everyone I know and talk to in this industry is passionately and whole-heartedly dedicated to making trucking safer and more efficient every single day they’re on the job. This industry has made huge gains in terms of safety. And even more giant leaps are coming. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible and hypocritical, especially coming from someone who drew a nice paycheck from the trucking industry for 16 years...
NY, USA - CCJ Digital, by Jack Roberts - August 24, 2015
Labels: dangerous trucks, opinion