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Division or Awareness? Trucking’s Perfect Storm

Jun
26,
2014
10
Trucking's Perfect Storm?

Trucking’s Perfect Storm?

What a roller coaster ride over the last few weeks, and it appears quite a storm has been brewing within the trucking industry. Just to keep everyone up to date, here’s a brief review how it has gone down and what has come out of it all:

June 3rd – Anne Ferro makes her statement on the DOT “Fast Lane Blog” making her plea to maintain the 2013 HOS rule and explaining why an amendment would threaten safety.

Thus, bringing to the attention the graphic display of fatal truck crashes brought on by truck driver fatigue. Just the title of the Blog Post says who the targeted audience is:   “Congress shouldn’t roll back safety.”  The blog post appeared just two days prior to Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, introducing an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill that would suspend the requirement of the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods during the restart and would allow more than one restart in a seven-day period.

June 5th – Senate appropriations committee approved by a large majority, the 12 month suspension of the 34 hour restart provision. Senators who voted for this amendment agreed that the  changes would amend restrictions in the 2013 HOS rule, which presently prevents drivers from using the restart more than once per week and requires the restart time to include two periods between 1am and 5am. Reason for the amendment included:

  1. Present 2013 HOS compromises safety by forcing more trucks on road during early morning traffic
  2. There was insufficient data by FMCSA proving improved safety for the 2013 HOS ruling

During this same time, truck stop chains were pulling Maxim magazines off the shelves as an ad inside the magazine included a graphic, depicting truck drivers as serial killers out on the road, portraying them to have little regard for human life or road safety.

June 5th - OOIDA requested resignation for FMCSA Administrator, Anne Ferro, writing a letter to DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. OOIDA stated that Ferro has a “clear bias against truckers and the trucking industry” and that the agency “can no longer perform its regulatory and enforcement duties impartially.”

The group also charged Ferro of violating federal laws that prohibit federally appropriated money to be used for lobbying purposes (Referring to the DOT Fast Lane Blog post of June 3rd). Those in favor of OOIDA’s call became passionately involved, commenting on numerous posts and threads, which then carried a momentum and included discussion for all FMCSA regulations which had been burdening drivers during the last few years; HOS, ELD’S, CSA, and an in general  over regulation of the industry.

Shortly after, James Lamb of the AIPBA also wrote Secretary Foxx, defending Anne Ferro.

June 8th – The tragic and fatal truck crash involving a Walmart trucker, killing comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and injuring comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver was quoted as saying he hadn’t slept for 24 hours, which quickly was interpreted by the media as meaning that he had been driving for 24 hours. (It wasn’t until days later that it was determined that he had actually been speeding.)

The misinformation was soon exploited by media, trucking safety advocacy groups, celebrities, and even politicians, distorting the truth by saying in so many words: truck driver fatigue is responsible for most fatal accidents and now the Senate wants to pass an amendment to further reduce safety, amending present HOS regulations by allowing/pushing professional drivers to drive even more hours without rest.

Below are associated links:

The public became outraged, assuming by the headlines and comments of the media, that the Collins amendment, which was proposed in order to suspend unsafe portions of the 2013 HOS rule, were now made to believe that the amendment negligently compromised highway safety to appease trucking greed.

June 17th - Another letter written by Annette Sandberg, former administrator of the FMCSA, also spoke out in support of the Collins Amendment and its vital changes to the 34-hour restart provision. The letter was addressed to leaders of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Transportation, she stated the changes to the restart provision imposed by the current administration were “done without the benefit of proper scientific research, and [are] hurting highway safety” – as well as the economy.

She also stated that due to the Walmart crash that “Current evidence … indicates the cause of this crash had nothing to do with the provisions being addressed in Senator Collins’ amendment.” Also in the letter, she made the point that “To imply that these changes had anything to do with crash in New Jersey is political opportunism at its worst.”

Finally in her letter, Sandberg explained how the current restart rules could actually compromise safety rather than enhance it, by forcing more trucks onto highways during early morning hours, something that most all drivers agree with, including those drivers who oppose OOIDA’s call for the recent administrator’s resignation.

It wasn’t until a group of OOIDA members wrote their letter to Secretary Foxx, supporting Administrator Ferro and disagreeing with OOIDA’s call for her resignation, that the industry appeared to be divided. Their letter included support for the administrator by pointing out positive concerns that the present administrator has addressed for drivers, such as when she addressed Congress, stating that drivers should be paid for all on duty time.

It is this letter that has become the most recent focus of attention in the industry, as this group of veteran drivers (who also support OOIDA in other issues), are now being dissected, scrutinized and criticized by some of their fellow drivers, some even going so far as to call the authors of the letter “traitors” to their fellow drivers.

But are they really? Or are they pointing out facts, voicing their opinions through conviction, and in doing so, allowing others to be aware of points that may have otherwise been missed in all of the complicated and emotional sequence of events.

Standing up for what you believe in is hardly easy, and it doesn’t always prove you are right, but it does display courage to go against the tide of the majority, taking the chance to expose yourself to ridicule and criticism. But in the end, what you have achieved, even with the harshest skeptics and haters, you have planted a seed.

This newly planted seed will create curiosity and many will research its fact, truth and validity, and if they do investigate for themselves, they have just broadened their mind to openness and contrary opinion as well as becoming more informed regarding ALL the facts. It could very well be an “Ahh Ha!” moment for many.

Many will not change their opinions, however, the knowledge they have gained by trying to prove wrong, those who have the “audacity to speak up against popular opinion,” has now proven to benefit them also; by supplementing their information and knowledge, creating greater conviction for beliefs, based on facts rather than just going along with the popularity of the masses.

I believe this entire trail of events has stirred up a passion and an increased thirst for individual understanding of what is going on in our industry. It is putting together many of the puzzle pieces: low driver wages, the need to be paid for all on duty time, detention pay, driver fatigue – the real causes, HOS and the real issues for the need for driver rest flexibility, ELD’s and how they relate to driver wages while enforcing a flawed HOS rule.

I will include a quote by Jeff Clark in regards to driver wages/profits:

“Eliminate the incentive to cheat would go further towards fighting fatigue than any HOS or mechanical device.”

When I read this, it indeed was similar to what James Lamb, another industry professional has suggested, that drivers are opposed to ELDS  because they would no longer be able to cheat on their logs, significantly affecting their wages. Mr. Lamb’s solution was to call for Rate Transparency among Freight Brokers, indicating that if Brokers were transparent, then O/O’s would make more profit and the concern for ELD’s would diminish.

Both Jeff and James, without prior discussion, have agreed that drivers need to make more money and then other issues would also be resolved, if only their wages and profits were increased.

You may now wonder, where do I stand on all of this? I myself believe the HOS rule is severely flawed, not allowing flexibility for drivers to receive quality rest. I believe that the Collins amendment will create safer roads. I believe there are many reasons which contribute to truck driver fatigue. I can see that the FMCSA still has much work to do with CSA and I believe that drivers should get paid for ALL work and time on duty, not just driving. I believe ELD’s are a tool enforcing a flawed rule.

I also want to see higher standards for CDL training, which in itself would improve highway safety. We have a long way to go, but I also believe that drivers are motivated right now to become involved as never before. Do I think that Ann Ferro should resign? No. With all that has just happened in just the last 3 weeks, we have the momentum and leverage needed to encourage the FMCSA  to listen intently, while everything is out on the table from all sides.

Why slow the process down by starting all over again?

Want to know how to submit comments to FMCSA ?
I created this slide show based on a presentation that Rich Wilson gave at the 2011 Truck Driver Social Media Convention.
This is an example of people working together for the good of the industry.

Want to submit comments to  FMCSA- MCSAC ?
I created this long overdue slideshow for those who want to have a voice in Washington

How to Submit Comments to MCSAC from Allen Smith

 

 

How to Submit Comments to the FMCSA from Allen Smith

© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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10 Responses to Division or Awareness? Trucking’s Perfect Storm. - Post a Comment

  1. Rick Biehle

    Allen, I am one of the drivers standing with OOIDA in calling for the resignation of Anne Ferro for the reasons they state and also because it is an action that truckers can unite under to let our government know that we DO have a voice in these matters that concern us.

    I do not like the idea of the government becoming involved in mandating pay issues because ultimately we will all suffer from the consequence. I have a contract that I signed with my company that covers these issues, however we never demand detention pay unless the delay is due to negligence or abuse by any company involved. Things happen to delay loads beyond our abilities to avoid sometimes. There has to be flexibility to accommodate both company and driver delays. If laws were passed to mandate pay for all the time on the road I think the days of OTR drivers would come to an end. Slip seating and relay freight would become the norm. OTR trucking is a choice that many of us freely accepted as the way we choose to live in this world. I knew coming into it that there would be sacrifices of other things in life to this and I freely accepted that. Ive invested my life into it and do not now want someone to take that investment away.

    • Allen Smith

      Thanks Rick,
      Whenever government becomes involved it can be trouble, however, SOMETHING must be done about driver pay.There is no other industry that I know of which accepts hours and hours of unpaid time for services. It may come down to carriers, after all, there’s a driver shortage and driver retention problem, right?
      Another thing to consider: United States Department of Labor Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/screen75.asp
      Drivers, driver’s helpers, loaders and mechanics are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA if employed by a motor carrier, and if the employee’s duties affect the safety of operation of the vehicles in transportation of passengers or property in interstate or foreign commerce. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

    • Allen Smith
  2. Cynthia Hightower

    There are so many things currently wrong with this industry. Not sure how to fix them. Many of the conditions that can ban a person from holding a CDL are directly influenced by exposure to diesel and carbon monoxide but yet everyone looks away. My husbands health was destroyed by his job and in the end the job cost him his life. Not a single federal agency will assist me in looking into this death or any of the other drivers dying alone in their cabs. Lets bury our heads in the sand. How many drivers who have wrecks are tested to rule out carbon monoxide did not play a role in a fatigued state. I’ll bet hardly none of them because blood would need to be drawn immediately for it to be accurate. If a driver is limited to time on the road then so should a 4 wheeler. How many people stay up late and then get behind the wheel of a car, plenty . I will continue to advocate and speak out about my families story . No more drivers need to die alone in their trucks. Companies should be forced to honor promised benefits and take care of families left behind when the job kills the driver.

  3. […] With everything that’s happened since (and before) the June 3 publication of Anne Ferro’s “Fast Lane” blog post, driver Allen Smith, of the Truth About Trucking Live online radio program and AsktheTrucker.com blog, more or less answered the question in the title here with a well-thought-out recap of events and commentary published earlier this week. I’d been thinking of pursuing something similar, so I’m glad he did it and I can just refer you to it. […]

  4. they are all rested out is a trucker who chose to use the 10 hour break for other then resting. his mistake. during a 10 hour break, how much sleep can you have?

    I get about six to eight hours of sleep with all the other trucks braking and the shouting around the truck stop, and a person can only get so much rest before they are all rested out. non the less, it was a bad choice by the driver and of all the millions of drivers on the road, both CMV and POV, this amendment prevents good drivers from working that follow the rules.

    I do stop when I am tired, because there isn’t a load that I have to kill myself for. When dispatch drives, then they can push themselves and not me. The green safety book states clearly that the driver is in charge, period… If I want to work and am capable to do that safely, then I should be allowed to do so. Does Congress do what they are supposed to do when they are in session? I haven’t seen it yet. But let’s not get in the way of their time off.

    Repeal this stupid amendment as it doesn’t solve the problem. Instead make an amendment that punishes the drivers of POVs for texting, talking and reading while driving, If we have to be in control of the trucks we drive, then so should they. That would end some discrimination against us on the road that deliver EVERYTHING that is in your life today from the food you eat to the clothes on your back

  5. Caryl Anne

    I agree that advanced training would help improve highway safety, but there are still other issues that need to be looked into and addressed to help with the safety concerns. Thanks for sharing your post!

  6. Rick Biehle

    Another issue I keep hearing concerning EOBR or ELDs is that owner operators do not want them as they prevent cheating the system in order to make more money. Although that may be true in some cases it is not true in the majority of cases. Installation and maintenance costs are a large factor. Having yet another recurring bill to pay is another. Company and government intrusion into privacy issues is one of the main concerns of the drivers I talk to.

    Another fallacy is that the EOBRs will prevent cheating. No they do not as can be witnessed by many drivers posting comments on how they do it. I drove for a short time with a company that explained unofficially how to over ride or edit out violations in the EOBR system.

  7. […] of comedian James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, who was killed during the famous Tracey Morgan “Walmart Crash”.  The show is scheduled to be aired on Friday 9/12/14 at 10 […]

  8. […] and hours without sleep in order to increase their individual profits. It wasn’t until the recent Walmart Tracy Morgan accident that the media started to investigate and understand the dilemma drivers face regarding […]

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