Fleet Management

Safety Schism: Truck Groups Draw Lines over ELD, Speed-Limiter Rules

April 13, 2017

By David Cullen

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Photo: U.S. Dept. of Transportation
Photo: U.S. Dept. of Transportation

A proxy war of words over how the Trump administration should approach existing and proposed truck-safety rules has erupted among some trucking and stakeholder groups.

The first powder lit came in the form of a Mach 21 letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao lobbying her to “prioritize” for elimination the final rule mandating electronic logging devices and the proposed rule to require speed limiters when the Department of Transportation culls regulations to comply with President Trump’s January 30 executive order, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. That’s the order that calls for killing two existing rules for every new federal rulemaking.

The letter was signed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association as well as the National Association of Small Trucking Companies along with an array of some 15 trucking stakeholder groups, such as the National Pork Producers Council and the Petroleum Marketers Association of America.

Noting that they “look forward to working with you to carry out the executive order in the safest and most responsible manner possible,” the signatories contend that together those two rulemakings would “cost our industries over $2.845 billion to implement, without providing any meaningful safety or economic value to our members or the American public. Both meet the cost threshold included in the administration’s interim guidance to be considered significant regulations under the executive order.”

The signers go on to argue that while the ELD mandate and its implementation deadline (this December) are required by statute— thus limiting what action Secretary Chao can take—  still “it is imperative for DOT to work with the regulated community and Congress to mitigate the negative impact of this excessive regulation.

"We are confident the administration’s full support for a delay in implementation and the eventual repeal of the ELD mandate would help encourage Congress to provide our industries the regulatory relief we desperately need,” they added.

As to the speed-limiter proposal, the groups strike at its well-recognized Achilles’ heel— setting up speed differentials between cars and trucks. “Without question, highway users stand to be negatively affected by the mandated use of speed limiters,” they stated. “States with speed limits above the maximum levels proposed by FMCSA would see their crash rates increase, as extreme speed differentials between automobiles and heavy vehicles make driving conditions more hazardous.” 

The groups also argued that states “already experiencing major congestion would find their problems compounded, as more trucks are needed to move the same amount of goods. And small businesses, the cornerstone of local economies, would struggle to overcome the economic impact of another costly federal regulation that provides no discernable benefit – a reality the agency even acknowledges in its proposal.” 

Not so fast, was the comeback fired off by the leaders of the Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (aka the Trucking Alliance) in their own letter to Chao, sent on April 12.

The letter was signed by Steve Williams, chairman & CEO of Maverick USA, and Kevin Knight, Executive Chairman of Knight Transportation. Williams and Knight are president and vice president, respectively, of the Trucking Alliance.

In their missive, Williams and Knight cut right to the chase— telling Chao that lobbying for ELDs, speed-limiters and several other safety reforms is the very reason that the Trucking Alliance was formed and is now supported by eight carrier member companies that collectively employ 68,000 drivers, managers and logistics personnel, and operate 52,000 trucks and 175,000 semitrailers/containers.

They stated that they want to encourage Chao’s “support for continuing several safety reforms at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; regulations that can reduce large truck accidents on our nation’s highways,” alluding to the ELD final rule and the proposed speed-limiter rule.

Then comes the kicker: “Recent arguments by a few transportation and business groups that urged you to delay these safety reforms are not only self-serving to these groups, but would be counterproductive to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s mission to improve transportation safety for all Americans,” they wrote.

The two truckload leaders then laid out all the FMSCA safety reforms that Alliance members want to see adopted industry-wide and why:

Electronic logging devices

  • “ELDs will save lives. FMCSA has evaluated the inherent safety benefits that accrue to carriers that utilize ELDs – an 11.7% reduction in crash rates and a 50% reduction in hours-of-service violations. Further, the agency estimates that after ELDs are fully installed in all interstate commercial trucks, 1,844 large truck crashes will be avoided, reducing injuries and saving the lives of at least 26 people each year.”
  • “ELDs will improve a truck driver’s quality of life.” Drivers are “often placed at cross purposes, either directly or indirectly, with expectations that force drivers to extend their work hours beyond what the human condition can safely and legally perform. ELDs will provide drivers with a method to withstand these pressures.”
  • “ELDs are not ‘over-regulation.’ ELDs “enable trucking companies and drivers to proudly demonstrate their enviable work ethic, but within the legal framework of federal hours of service rules. Industrywide compliance will ensure that our drivers are better rested, safer and more secure in their jobs.”
  • “ELDs will improve efficiencies throughout the US supply chain. ELDs will define the maximum capacity of the trucking industry. That will enable the shipping community to shift its focus away from supporting longer truck driving hours to eliminating inefficiencies and waste within the supply chain.”

Truck-speed limiters

  • “FMCSA has proposed that large commercial trucks be equipped with a speed limiting device. The Trucking Alliance strongly believes that excessive large truck speeds are critical factors in the severity of injuries and fatalities in large truck accidents.” The Alliance “supports a truck-speed limiter rule in which the maximum speed setting is no more than 65 mph.”

Hair-testing

  • “Section 5402 of the ‘Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act’ contained a provision that directed the Department of Health and Human Services to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing as a method to detect controlled substance abuse. After the HHS issues its guidelines, FMCSA may initiate a rulemaking to permit hair testing as an acceptable alternative to urine testing for commercial driver drug testing requirements.” 

Pre-employment screening (PSP)

  • “FMCSA created the PSP to help carriers make more informed hiring decisions, by providing secure, electronic access to the FMCSA’s commercial driver’s five-year crash and three-year inspection history. However, less than 1% of the industry utilizes the PSP. This is because the third party contractor that implements the program charges $10 per report, a fee that is cost-prohibitive to many motor carriers and more than twice the price that the contractor originally promised, once its start-up costs were recovered. The FMCSA should renegotiate the PSP fee with this contractor, or another, to encourage more industry participation and help carriers make informed hiring decisions.” 

Minimum financial requirements

  • In 1980, Congress directed motor carriers to be sufficiently insured, the expressed purpose for which was to adequately compensate the victims of truck accidents. Congress authorized the minimum insurance requirement at $750,000. That was 37 years ago. Most motor carriers today are woefully underinsured to compensate victims in the event of a catastrophic truck accident.”

In closing, Williams and Knight advised Chao that in 2015, per DOT data, “there were 414,598 large truck accidents on U.S. roadways, in which 116,000 people were injured and 4,067 people lost their lives. Of these fatalities, 594 were commercial truck drivers. Our industry cannot tolerate such tragic numbers every year.”

Comments

  1. 1. alexander [ April 14, 2017 @ 04:09AM ]

    So let me get this straight, after the largest industry merger, the chairman of Knight has decided to set the lofty goal of controlling the ENTIRE industry...Make no mistake, CEO's of mega carriers lobbying to control the industry to THEIR standard is NOT about safety, that is merely the "sell". It is about merging state and corporate power to level the competition.

  2. 2. TexasJester [ April 14, 2017 @ 04:54AM ]

    Note that the companies and groups demanding ELDs and speed limiters are the ones that already have ELDs and speed limiters, and are having a hard time competing effectively with small companies and owner/operators. These companies include Swift and Knight (who just announced a MASSIVE merger), Werner, CR England, Schneider, JB Hunt, Crete, Prime, and others - most of whom are members of the American Trucking Association (ATA), who is also pushing for the limiters and ELDs.

    Speed limiters are dangerous. They create an artificial speed differential between trucks and cars, and it's this differential that sets up the wrecks. Just yesterday, in Westley, CA, I had an argument with a car driver about those "slow, lumbering trucks that are always in the way". In one 5-mile stretch on CA99 in Bakersfield 2 days ago, I lost track of the number of cars that cut across my hood to make their exit, often slowing dramatically and forcing me to slow down to avoid the wreck. CA has one of the highest accident rates between cars and trucks, and it's the massive speed differential that's the problem.

    After Texas and Ohio raised their speed limits for trucks, they saw a massive DROP in wrecks. When California raised their car speed limit, they had an INCREASE in wrecks.

    We all know what happens when we have a couple trucks governed to the same speed, try to pass each other. It takes several miles to complete the pass. (Hint to those drivers - if someone is trying to pass, and it's taking a while, the one being passed needs to slow down by 5 mph for about 30 seconds. It will lessen the traffic backup, and you won't lose any time.)

    ELDs take away any flexibility one can create with paper logs that would make us safer. For example - I come to Fort Worth and I am almost out of hours, and it's late in the evening when traffic is light. I need to get through Fort Worth and Dallas at some point, to get to points east. With paper logs, I can go on through the DFW area, and log that time tomorrow. (This is, of course, assuming I'm not fatigued and I'm safe to drive that far.) With an ELD, id be forced to drive through the DFW area in the morning, in heavy traffic. Which is safer?

    My bona fides: I am a professional driver, with 32 years and almost 4 million safe miles. I have driven trucks that were ungoverned, and trucks limited to 62 mph. I was with Werner in the 1990s, when they started ELDs. I currently work for a small company, running a flatbed governed at 72, with paper logs.

  3. 3. Mike [ April 14, 2017 @ 06:27AM ]

    Notice it's the company's that have all the accidents that want to change the rules .how about better training for these companies. Teach them what a ton is or a low bridge sign is . Jeez people get off your phone's and pay attention to the road and alittle common sense.

  4. 4. Randy [ April 14, 2017 @ 06:45AM ]

    These 2 gentlemen are just plain wrong. I'm not sure where they are getting these numbers they are spouting but they gotta be making them up! I completely agree with the 2 gentlemen above. I have been driving since the mid 70's and have driven all kinds of trucks. My bet is that these 2 gents may have never driven and don't know anything about being in a truck. There is no way its safer. They already have their trucks slowed down, why do they want to try and tell me what to do??? Do they own my trucks as well?? I think they should put their noses back in their business and keep it out of mine!!

  5. 5. Carlton [ April 14, 2017 @ 07:17AM ]

    How often does a company or industry ask a government agency for more regulation? Doesn't it seem suspect, that it's happening, here? If it were a phone company or utility, wouldn't we just tell them, "if that's what you want, then just do it"? The only possible reason for asking for regulation to this effect, is to force other trucking companies into doing it. We're not hearing the motoring public clamoring for slower trucks - just the executives if the megacarriers. I'll bet that a significant number of their own drivers object to this. That they employ a large number does not mean that they speak for those drivers - it means that they already have the power to force this on them. So what is their interest in forcing it on their competitors? Do we really believe that they want to force their competitors to be safer? That it isn't about competitiveness? How stupid are we?

  6. 6. Coppertop [ April 14, 2017 @ 07:51AM ]

    Sure makes you suspicious when a CEO at Knight goes along with all this electronic crap. If any company is getting any subsidies for putting people to work, that should end also. It puts smaller company`s at a disadvantage. I have been out here driving for 38 years now and in that time I have seen a lot of changes. Some good like drug and alcohol testing. Driving and HOS, now that`s a different story. I have seen it go from bad to worse.Seems to me there trying to make OTR driving a 9 to 5 job. Good luck with that. Lets see they used to have the split sleeper which I thought was helpful. It gave me a chance to take a nap on days when I was a little tired or if it took long to load or unload or coming into rush hour traffic I could stop and sleep 3 or 4 hours, extend my driving time and go on which I think is a good thing. NO they ended that. That`s not safe. Then the biggest screw up of all is the 14 hour rule. Now everyone out here starts there day at 4,5,6,7 in the morning and come night time everyone is scrambling around trying to find a place to park. It also makes you work a swing shift if your trying to get somewhere faster. And ten hours off? I can`t sleep that long. I sit around now waiting to go back to driving. I hear some drivers tell how they love the ELD`s Most of them saying that work for the big truck load company`s or get payed by the hour that do a lot of drop and hook business. If people like the CEO at Knight keep pushing this I think they should get rid of mileage pay and should have to pay everyone by the hour. That will end all the free time they get out of truck drivers. The bottom line here is I can`t try to set my own schedule like I used to. I`m forced to drive when I`m tired which is not safe at all. They would be better off going back to 70 hours in 8 days and 8 hours off and 10 hours driving again. They totally screwed this up. And now they want to invade my privacy with ELD`s.

  7. 7. Bubba [ April 14, 2017 @ 09:44AM ]

    Get serious, ELDs are needed for the industry. It will eliminate the cheaters that run too many miles/hours and keep rates artificially low. The days of being a cowboy trucker are gone. ELDs will improve working conditions and raise pay for truck drivers and owner operators.

  8. 8. Jeff pearson [ April 14, 2017 @ 09:51AM ]

    Trucking aliance? Is that not the ATA under another name? But but we have 68000 drivers...what about the other 2 or 3 million other CDL drivers? The ATA used to be for all drivers and ALL trucking companies whether it was the one truck operation... or the 50,000 truck operation..it is time that they quit trying to run everybodies lives..just because they cant find good drivers that are competent and safe..pull up Swifts CSA score...its Swift of Phoenix or Arizona i cant remember.. how good is it? Its not..if you were in school... your parents would be happy with your grade...the ONLY reason why THEY want ELD and SPEED LIMITERS is because they can not compete against you..you are killing them because with their driving records...WE are putting them slowly out of business..that is the only thing it has absolutly nothing to do with safety

  9. 9. Gary [ April 14, 2017 @ 10:24AM ]

    I might be wrong, but I think the Knight brothers are the ones that started the Trucking Alliance. So naturally they want there cake an eat it too. They used to drive for Swift then started on there own.

  10. 10. Michael B Rector [ April 14, 2017 @ 10:29AM ]

    I am a one-truck, one-driver, owner-operator and I carry intermodal containers from the ports in Charleston, SC into NC. If everything goes well, I have about 10 hours of drive time each day and I'm back home every night. So, the 11-hour drive time isn't generally an issue for me. However, the 14-hour work day is a problem because the rules require 1) a 15-minute pre-trip, (2) a 30-minute break, (3) and a 15-minute post-trip. With that, I'm down to 13 hours already. Beyond that, I'm at the mercy of road construction, traffic accidents, and port delays & congestion. Any problems with one of those items and I'm running out of time 30 miles from home. If I put an ELD in my truck, I'm facing (A) the initial purchase and monthly subscription expense of the ELD, (B) increasing my driving speed to make sure I don't run out of hours, (C) decreasing my fuel mileage due to driving faster, (D) increasing my carbon emissions because I'm burning more fuel ... ugh ..., (E) or trying to find parking on a two-lane highway 30 miles from home and sleeping in the truck. How does any of that increase safety for me? I can understand how a company with a number of drivers can benefit from an ELD system to keep track of them. I can also understand how some of the HOS rules can protect employee drivers. However, there is no benefit to me at all from the restrictive regulations on HOS or ELDs. ATA, the Trucking Alliance, and all of those other "trucking" groups can implement those rules on their own to deal with their own troubled driving force. Just leave me alone and trust that I can take care of my own business. I know when I'm tired and I have no interest in driving fatigued. I love my wife and my prime directive is to get back home safely every day. I don't need a governmental agency to tell me how to do it.

  11. 11. Chris [ April 14, 2017 @ 10:39AM ]

    By turning trucks down the fright will run short at consumers drivers will not make any better money for there familys. There for they will find other jobs doing different things there for there will be no food or anything for your every day use. This county grows of the people that drive truck's. By turning down the trucks with limiters you are braking down the drivers that build everything . If we don't drive you don't have food or shoes to put on your feet or shingles for your house. All we have to do is to shut down. And we shut down america. Thank about it people. Then you have cars pull out in front of you and slam on there brak e s on purpose just to collect a easy insurance check. If you turn us down with limiters. You need to do the same with cars.
    I have been out here behind a wheel for 17 years. I support America . But I do not support idiot ideas that will make money for people that should have no say in this work. Maybe we should all get our own trucks and insurance on our own . Then you can't control that . Then there would be no major carriers. Except for the rail road.

  12. 12. Chris [ April 14, 2017 @ 10:39AM ]

    Grow up and care about America .

  13. 13. Coppertop [ April 14, 2017 @ 10:55AM ]

    Your right Michael. Hey Bubba, Why is it when it comes to government intrusion people like you are all for it? The only argument you people come up with is your cheating. As far as I`m concerned is your cheating your self with your argument. The only people it benefits are the big company`s that are desperate for drivers and hire anyone which causes accidents and bad reputations for all on the road. Which in turn causes them to come up with this crap that you and others like you want because it some how makes you feel safer. Well be careful what you wish for it just might bite you in the end. Good Luck! Truck On!!!

  14. 14. Mike [ April 14, 2017 @ 08:48PM ]

    Out of all the accidents they listed, I would like them to be honest and split the ones running paper logs no speed limiters and eld's with limiters.

    I guarantee the truth on these facts would take both of these laws right to the trash can where they belong!

    I strive to be safe and on time. I don't think a computer being my boss will help in either department. I'm a 1 truck owner operator since 2000. 17 years would be pretty good evidence of the type of driver I am. Loose leaf logbook and a truck with no limits. Can you even imagine a outlaw like me with a awesome CSA score, no speeding tickets and over 2 million miles accident free.

    I'm not perfect, I get it. I also know I'm not the problem! Get off of our backs and let us provide for our families and deliver for your family's!

  15. 15. V [ April 16, 2017 @ 06:19AM ]

    A speed limiter of 65 miles and is going to frustrate many drivers. Combo weight and engine power coupled with confidence of driver will effect more and does not seem to be taken into consideration. I could get behind an overall US law of 5 mph under posted speed limit for ALL vehicles rated over 26,000 lbs, yes that means you utility truck and 6 wheelers.
    Also, We need to educate and crack down on 4 wheelers who drive without regard to road safety.

  16. 16. Bob [ April 16, 2017 @ 03:25PM ]

    They sure would like to see everybody doing 65 so they can recruit more experienced drivers. They want insurance raised so it limits how many o/o can afford to start their own business. If you cant come up with insurance money you cant be an o/o.

  17. 17. 6pack [ April 18, 2017 @ 06:41PM ]

    ELD would be ok, with the current b.s. hos regs. But, I do miss the old days of a proper split logging; rarely needed to run 2 books.
    As far as speed limiters, I say set them nationally to 75mph, as that seems to be the "average actual" speed on any interstate.
    And, I think it's awful sweet that the CEO of the now largest Trucking Co, wants everyone else to be like him.

 

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