Drivers

Safety Advisors Suggest Reducing In-Cab Distractions

August 31, 2010

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Distracted driving is best countered by a wide-ranging effort to instill a culture of safety among all drivers, but in trucking specifically it would be helpful to reduce in-cab distractions, says a committee of safety experts.
The safety committee recommended that the FMCSA take existing research as well as risks and benefits into account as it weighs the idea of prohibiting or limiting driver use of in-cab technologies while the truck is moving.
The safety committee recommended that the FMCSA take existing research as well as risks and benefits into account as it weighs the idea of prohibiting or limiting driver use of in-cab technologies while the truck is moving.


The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee yesterday suggested that federal regulators look at technology standards, enforcement, driver education and data collection as they consider ways to limit distracted driving in trucks.

The committee, whose members come from the industry, the enforcement community and labor and safety advocacy groups, provides advice and recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It has in the past weighed in on issues such as hours of service, new entrant regulations and cross-border trucking.

In a letter to FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, the committee recommended that the agency take existing research as well as risks and benefits into account as it weighs the idea of prohibiting or limiting driver use of in-cab technologies while the truck is moving.

The committee suggested that the agency consider alternatives to visual messaging, including incentives to promote voice-only technologies. It also urged the agency to consider a rulemaking to develop performance standards for in-cab technologies that might distract drivers.

As it assesses distracted driving enforcement the agency should consider potential sanctions, such as traffic tickets or moving violations, the committee said.

Another recommendation is that the agency ramp up a driver education program, possibly including mandatory periodic training as well as entry-level training.

The Bigger Picture

These steps should be taken as part of a larger effort, the committee said. FMCSA should work with the other administrations within the Department of Transportation, as well as the makers of vehicles and onboard gear, as part of the large-scale campaign to reduce distracted driving.

The committee is now working on recommendations for fatigue management programs, which it plans to present to the agency later this year.

Committee Members

The members of the committee are chosen by the FMCSA administrator. They are: John M. Bauer, director of global transportation for Starbucks Coffee; LaMont Byrd, director of health and safety for the Teamsters union; Bill Dofflemyer, Maryland Department of State Police; Scott G. Hernandez, Colorado State Patrol; and Thomas Jacques, Pittsburgh Police.

Others include John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition; Terry L. Maple, Kansas Highway Patrol; Jane Mathis, Parents Against Tired Truckers; Kevin O'Brien, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles; and David J. Osiecki, senior vice president for policy and regulatory affairs at American Trucking Associations.

The committee also consists of Stephen C. Owings, co-founder and president of Road Safe America; Peter Pantuso, president and CEO of the American Bus Association; David R. Parker, senior legal counsel at Great West Casualty Company; Robert G. Petrancosta, vice president of safety for Con-way Freight; and Robert Powell, Virginia State Police.

Also included are Danny Schnautz, a driver for Clark Freight Lines; Lester B. Sokolowski, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Strategic Safety Solutions; Judith Lee Stone, president, executive director and member of the Board of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; and Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

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