Category: "regulations"

05/16/10

  01:34:10 pm, Categories: regulations

Everyone in the trucking industry should be made aware of the two announcements made by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently. These announcements are about the new CSA 2010 Program and the new Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP).

In my blog entry on September 18, 2009, I encouraged everyone to become familiar with the new CSA 2010 program that is replacing SAFESTAT. On 4/21/2010, FMCSA announced the implementation date for this new program will be 11/30/2010. In addition, FMCSA has provided a webpage you can use to look up your current rating on the new Carrier Safety Measurement System (CSMS). Every trucking company should check their CSMS rating immediately.

If your company rating is less than perfect you have 6 months to try to improve your company’s score. Remember that each carrier's scores are updated monthly based on fleet inspections, tickets, and accidents during the previous month. The bill, that Congress passed, requires FMSCA to focus their intervention efforts on those high risk carriers with the lowest safety scores. By acting now, know your score, and starting improvements, hopefully your company will not be in the pool of high risk carriers.

The second announcement was just made this week. FMCSA has completed the initial work on the new Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) and carriers can now receive driver reports from PSP. PSP is a program that carriers can use to pre-screen their driver applicants. The report will show the last 5 years of crash data and the last 3 years of roadside inspection data for the driver. Carriers must register and pay a registration fee prior to accessing the PSP webpage and receiving reports. There is also a $10 charge per report. If drivers want to view their own report to check for accuracy, they can go to the same webpage and pay $10 to view and print their report.

Both of these new programs are designed by FMCSA to increase truck safety on the highway. No one wants their trucks and drivers involved in accidents, and hopefully these new programs will keep us all safer on the highways. TruckMaster® software can help monitor all safety requirements. For a free online demo of the TruckMaster® System, contact us. We are waiting to hear from you.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster® Solution Provider
TruckMaster® Your Trucking Company

02/02/10

  03:43:33 pm, Categories: regulations , Tags: safe roads

In 2007, 41,259 people were killed in traffic accidents. In 2008, 37,261 people died in traffic accidents. That's a 9.7% decrease in fatalities according to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Traffic Safety Facts published in June 2009. In this same report, the first quarter of 2009 saw 7,689 deaths while the same quarter in 2008 saw 8,451 deaths – a continued drop of 9.0%.

What about the transportation industry? What role, if any, have we had to play in this decline in traffic fatalities?

According to the Fatalities Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Query System, 4,301 fatalities were truck related in 2007, while only 3,787 fatalities were truck related in 2008. This is a 13.5% decrease in truck-related deaths. The transportation industry is getting involved in making our highways safer for not just truck traffic but for all traffic. How can we help make this trend continue?

What are the great concerns we, as the transportation industry must continue to work on to make these statistics drop even further?

There are three major issues on our highways today that need to be addressed:

  1. Driver fatigue. Following the existing DOT regulations for legal driving times and getting the required amounts of sleep is the #1, most imperative action that must be eliminated by drivers and those who dispatch them. This includes keeping accurate and legal logs. The days of fudging, carrying two log books, etc are in the past. As an industry, we must lead the way to reduce driver fatigue.
  2. Cell phone usage. The fact that cell phones are a distraction is well known. Many states have outlawed the use of cell phones while driving. But that isn't the worst part of cell phones. There is a new menace besides just talking on cell phones – texting while driving.
    Is texting a bad thing? No, texting is a fantastic technological breakthrough for getting information to and from drivers in a timely manner without wasting a lot of time 'talking' on the phone. But when a driver is reading or answering a text he has just received, he is less able to maintain control of his vehicle even more than an alcohol impaired driver.
    CNN.COM reported on Jul 31, 2009 that "A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study … showed truck drivers are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if they're texting, and several fatal accidents have been blamed on drivers or train operators who were distracted by texting."
  3. Alcohol consumption. Alcohol and drug use have been the bane on our highways since the first accident in the days of horse and buggy. For some unknown reason, we as human beings think we are not impaired after we have had "one for the road". The statistics could go on and on about the effects alcohol and drugs have on driver impairment, but we won't go into them here. Suffice it to say, the transportation industry must do all it can to help eradicate drinking and driving.

Are our roads, byways and highways safer than they were 10 years ago? Yes, they are. But are they safe enough? As long as one person is killed on our highways in a preventable accident the answer is no. The transportation industry needs to be applauded for the strides we have made in making our roads better and safer. But now is not the time to sit back on our laurels and relax. We must continue to lead the way in safer and more efficient equipment and in safer and more focused drivers.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

09/18/09

  12:19:45 pm, Categories: regulations , Tags: csa2010, safestat

Next year FMCSA is replacing SAFESTAT with CSA 2010 (Comprehensive Safety Analysis – 2010). Have you heard about this? If not, you need to educate yourself now. This is scheduled to take effect the middle of next year and when it does, your safety information for the last 24 months will be used to determine your CSA scores. The inspections and violations that are happening now, will determine your CSA rating when it takes effect next year. You need to be familiar with the new CSA program, in order to be proactive and start now making changes needed to improve your CSA rating in the future. The FMCSA website for this information is here.

FMCSA will be gathering much more information for the CSA program than they are currently gathering for the SAFESTAT program. All inspections (roadside, offsite, and onsite), all violations, and all crashes will be included in the new CSA information gathering process. SAFESTAT currently has four main categories that it monitors. The new CSA is monitoring seven categories that they called BASIC (Behavioral Analysis and Safety Improvement Category). These seven BASIC categories are:

  • Unsafe driving
  • Fatigue (hours-of-service)
  • Driver fitness
  • Controlled substances and alcohol
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Improper loading and cargo securement
  • Crash history

Reference

Any incidents, within these seven BASIC categories that you had in the last 24 months, will be included in your CSA rating. The most current incidents are weighted and affect the rating more than older incidents. Therefore, if you take steps now to clean up any safety issues, your safety rating will be much lower when CSA takes effect next year.

Not only is FMCSA including more information in the ratings, they have also proposed more comprehensive punitive actions if a carriers CSA rating is too high, up to and including revocation of their authority. Don’t wait until CSA takes effect to make any needed safety changes. It will be too late if your score is too high. Learn the new rules now, make any needed changes, and when CSA takes effect, you will be sitting pretty, ready to "keep on truckin'".

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

06/26/09

  10:12:29 am, Categories: regulations , Tags: regulations, truck parking

For many years, both the Federal Highway Administration and FMCSA have been doing studies identifying the need for safe overnight parking for truckers and suggesting alternatives. However there has been little accomplished other than continually studying the problem. Other than private parking at truck stops and limited parking at rest areas, nothing much has changed in the last 15 years.

With the introduction of Federal House Bill 2156 in May, 2009, there may be some changes on the way. This bill is commonly referred to as "Jason’s Bill" after Jason Rivenburg, who was murdered in his tractor on March 5, 2009 in South Carolina. Jason had pulled into a closed truck stop to wait for his appointment the next morning. That evening he was murdered and his wallet taken. The police estimate he only had $7 in his wallet at the time.

The family and friends of Jason started a petition drive to get additional safe parking areas identified and additional parking sites created. As a result of their efforts, HB 2156 was drafted and introduced in May 2009. It is currently still in committee. Read this bill and then contact your representatives and let them know if you do or do not support it.

Whether this bill passes or not, you do need to implement plans for all drivers to find and use safe overnight parking, both for driver safety and to discourage hijacking, which has increased drastically in the last few years. Look for lighted parking areas and near other trucks. Watch out for each other.

TruckMaster has created a truck stop lookup website for drivers to locate truck stops along their route along with fuel prices. We also show the number of parking spaces and other amenities. If you haven’t visited our free website, go to FindFuelStops.com now and check us out. But above all, be safe!

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

02/01/09

  09:48:49 am, Categories: regulations , Tags: driver fatigue

We have heard a lot about driver fatigue and its role in causing accidents on our nation’s highways. But what are the real figures? Is driver fatigue really a problem?

Saferoads.org claims: "Each year truck crashes kill over 5,000 people and injure almost 150,000 more on our nation's roads and highways. Nearly one in four passenger vehicle deaths in multiple-vehicle collisions involve a large truck."

Attorney Jim S. Adler claims: "Truck driver fatigue is a significant cause of 18-wheeler accidents, leading to at least 750 fatalities and 20,000 injuries per year."

What a swing! 750 fatalities compared to 5000? 20,000 injured compared to 150,000? Which of these is correct or are they figures pulled from a hat?

Plainly stated, this analyst believes both are designed to make the trucking industry look like a monster storming the road of North America with half-crazed, half-dazed and overworked drivers. I am not writing to bash Saferoads.org or Mr. Adler. I am not writing to suggest that all truck drivers are driving within the legal limits as outlined by the Federal Department of Transportation (US DOT). What I am suggesting is that the trucking industry as a whole is safer now that it has ever been.

The US DOT modified the hours a driver can work (driving and non-driving hours) on a given day in 2005. (The complete rules may be found here.) Succinctly stated, a driver may drive up to 11 hours in a 24 hour period and may work no more that 14 hours in a 24 hr period before he is required to have a minimum of 10 hours down time. This 14 hr-day rule is good unless you exceed 70 hrs in 8 consecutive days, and then the driver is in violation.

The trucking industry is the only industry that penalized a driver for taking time off. How many of us can think of someone we work(ed) with in our 9 to 5 jobs that staggered in on Monday exclaiming they were so tired from the weekend that they needed to come to work to rest. Did we send them home or tell them they couldn’t work until they were actually able to work. How many of us in our daily 9 to 5 jobs are required to record start-stop times for every activity we do. I don't mean punching a clock when we get in and when we leave for the day – I mean punching a clock every time we change what we are doing.

What does this have to do with driver fatigue? Simple, most drivers today follow the US DOT rules without any problems. The number of "tired" drivers is fewer now than ever on our roads. Yes, we have some "bad apples" out there that we need to find, educate and/or remove before they become applesauce. But unlike the law profession where 99% of all lawyers give the rest a bad name, in the trucking industry 1% of drivers are giving the rest a bad name.

Whether 750 lives or 5000 lives are lost each year in accidents with big rigs, we in the transportation industry want to bring that number to zero. If we all work together, if we all try harder, and if we all work smarter it can happen.

How can we eliminate driver fatigue? Follow the DOT regulations. Drivers, refuse to drive when you are running low on hours. Trucking companies: refuse to put your drivers in jeopardy; listen to them, they really are thinking with the company’s best interest at heart. Buyers and consumers: don't ask the impossible of the trucking companies that serve you.

Is driver fatigue a problem? Yes, but it is getting better.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company™

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