The author of a damning 1999 story that overstated safety concerns and hours-of-service dangers in the trucking industry may be gearing up for a second assault.
Bernard Gavzer, reporter for Parade magazine, a weekly tabloid-format
newspaper insert with a circulation of 34.5 million, is writing a follow-up to
his 1999 Parade feature, “Is the
Long Haul Too Long?” The article is expected to discuss the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Administration’s new hours-of-service regulations, which go into
effect Oct. 1.
An exact print date for the second story has
not been given. However, the American Trucking Association said the story is
expected to be published in September.
A source at Parade confirmed for Land Line the
article’s existence, but would not comment on when – or if – it would be
“We don’t know if it’s going to be running,”
the source said Wednesday, Aug. 31. “It may or it may not.”
Gavzer’s earlier article raised a great deal
of concern from members of the trucking community, many of whom thought the
article unfairly stereotyped truckers. Specifically, challengers of the story
said Gavzer suppressed information from studies and sources that cast trucking
in a positive light, and instead exaggerated dangers of truck accidents and the
number of hours truckers are allowed to rest under federal standards.
“Most truck drivers viewed this as a hatchet
job because the needlessly inflammatory rhetoric of the story implies that
truck drivers knowingly and purposely kill people,” said Tom Weakley, a project
manager for the OOIDA Foundation. “This is simply not true. In most of these
accidents, the truck driver does not cause the accident – meaning the truck
driver is a victim, too.”
Both OOIDA and ATA provided Gavzer with
information for his original story, said Todd Spencer, executive vice president
for OOIDA. Spencer said he also spoke to Gavzer about the as-of-yet-unpublished
“The majority of comments are probably going
to be from people who have a different perspective on highway safety than we
do. It’s not going to be balanced, from the reporter’s perspective, who’s going
to be talking to various different people to get some of their comments,” Spencer said.
“Given that we’re going to be outnumbered, so
to speak, by people that have a different perspective, chances are pretty good
that the balance of the article is probably going to be something we’re not
going to like.”
Weakley said the most reliable data on truck crash causation is a 2003 report by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, which was published for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to the report, which analyzed more than 15,000 fatal crashes, truck drivers were cited only 25 percent of the time.
In the same study, drowsiness was only listed
as a cause in 3 percent of all accidents caused by truckers. During a press
conference on the new hours-of-service regulations, FMCSA Administrator Annette
Sandberg also pointed out research shows that only 5.5 percent of all truck
crashes are fatigue-related.
hours-of-service debate is really a moot point as long as shippers, receivers
and others are free to waste a driver’s time in non-driving work to the tune of
30 to 40 hours each week,” Weakley said. “This situation won’t be resolved
without action and direction of Congress.”
The original 1999 article can be read at http://www.truckline.com/NR/rdonlyres/D1C29714-9768-4327-9F3C-D42DA07FFD83/0/99PARADEArticle.pdf
– By Aaron
Ladage, staff writer