SPECIAL REPORT: Using common sense to counterattack

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 3/5/2014

An unfounded and unjustified agenda of the largest fleets and federal regulators is being met head on by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

Call to action

OOIDA members will play a critical role in advancing the commonsense counterattack. Over the course of the next several months, members can help make safety the real concern in future legislation and regulation governing the trucking industry.

Visit truckersforsafety.com for information on all the agenda items in addition to a one-pager that you can share with your lawmakers to familiarize them with the issues.

On the site you can sign up for action alerts. Alerts will be sent to the membership when it is time to take action either for favorable legislation or against more burdensome, misguided regs.

The site is also a place to stay informed on the issues and on what is happening in D.C., along with social media links to share your experiences on promoting commonsense approaches to safety.

In the coming months, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plan to move on a pair of regulations that not only will be very unpopular with small-business motor carriers and truck drivers alike, but also will do nothing to improve highway safety, according to OOIDA.

The proposed regulations on mandating electronic logging devices for all drivers and speed limiters on all trucks suffer a severe lack of validation in research and proof of any improvement to highway safety, according to the Association’s position on the proposals.

Both proposals are being pushed by large motor carrier groups including the American Trucking Associations and The Trucking Alliance and are advocated by other groups such as Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition.

The agencies lack the research and proof that either device will improve regulatory compliance or improve highway safety, OOIDA points out. Instead, research into several large motor carriers that utilize the devices show compliance records and crash involvement rates higher than motor carriers that do not use them.

The Association continues to battle back against both proposals – with three more legal arguments at the ready for electronic logging devices.

Rather than grabbing at gadgetry and driving up the cost of compliance, OOIDA is making big moves ahead of the next highway bill to make true highway safety a cornerstone of regulations in the future.

Based on feedback from OOIDA members – men and women who have on average 25 years of truck driving experience and 2 million miles of accident free trucking – the Association has developed a four-pronged plan of attack.

The Truckers for Safety agenda is focused on addressing both safety challenges and the future of the trucking industry, especially ensuring that trucking is a viable career for the future through four major focus areas.
Back to basics with driver training
It just makes sense that if you’re going to drive a truck loaded down with cargo, weighing 80,000 pounds, you should know what you’re doing. The current state of driver training is riddled with CDL mills and motor carrier “on the job” training, which has rookie drivers with only three to six months of experience themselves training the new drivers.

That’s why OOIDA is proposing entry-level driver training for all new truck drivers. The Association’s proposal focuses on the long-haul, interstate, tractor-trailer segment only.

This agenda item is obviously gaining traction in the Beltway thanks to OOIDA’s efforts. That’s just the first of many steps toward making this a reality. The Association will continue to lobby for a bill to be introduced in Congress to mandate that FMCSA pursue regulating driver training with the SMART Future Truck Drivers Act. (Visit truckersforsafety.com for more information on the act.)

When you see the fatality reports and the reporting on truck-involved fatal collisions, the conversation and the focus is primarily on the passenger vehicle occupants. Rarely does the concern and attention turn to the occupants of the truck.

Picking up on a cause highlighted by the widow of an OOIDA member who died in a low-speed crash, OOIDA has helped Sarah Van Wasshnova promote the need for crashworthiness standards in large trucks.

That agenda item has resulted in a mandated study on crashworthiness, which is currently in the planning stages.

OOIDA is committed to not letting the issue die at the study stage.

Improving enforcement’s focus on crashes
OOIDA has long said that use of the numerous regulations in CSA to try and determine future crash risk of motor carriers is flawed because many, many regulations have nothing to do with the safe operation of a truck. That stance was validated recently by a GAO report on CSA.

The Association has developed a position that the agency should split out the scores tied to safety-related violations from those tied to compliance-related violations. That would entail a review of the current regulations to determine which ones are actually having an effect on reducing crashes.

A safer highway
If a truck is a driver’s desk, then the highway is his or her office. And everyone deserves a safe working environment – even truckers.

That’s why OOIDA’s fourth pillar of its Truckers for Safety agenda tackles life on the road. It addresses the need for more safe and secure parking, appropriately designed and built highways and a greater focus on “sharing the road” activities, both through NHTSA campaigns and driver training for passenger vehicles. 

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