Safety & Compliance

ATA Safety Agenda Aired at Senate Hearing

January 29, 2015

By Oliver Patton

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Next steps for truck safety should be completion of the speed limiter mandate, more focus on traffic enforcement and improvements in the CSA safety enforcement system, a top Werner Enterprises official told a transportation panel of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Safety also would improve if carriers had incentives to install technologies such as forward collision warning and if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finished a driver training rule, said Werner Executive Vice President Jim Mullen.

Mullen testified Thursday on behalf of American Trucking Associations at a hearing launching the Commerce Committee’s effort to draft the safety title of the next highway bill. The bill is due before the current program expires at the end of May.

“The trucking industry is justifiably proud of its commitment to safety,” Mullen told members of the Surface Transportation Subcommittee.

Werner, one of the five largest truckload carriers in the country, spends $40 million a year on safety, Mullen said. Some of that is to meet regulatory requirements but much goes to voluntary investments such as forward collision warning and lane departure warning, he said.

Werner has cut its preventable accidents by 22% over the past seven years, Mullen said. He attributed the gain to the company’s use of driver training simulators, onboard devices to track critical events and predictive modeling, as well as the crash prevention technologies.

Mullen cited the pending electronic logging mandate as an example of how FMCSA rules can improve safety, but he slammed the agency for slow action on the speed limiter rule and what he described as an overemphasis on roadside inspections versus traffic enforcement.

ATA has been pushing FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for mandatory speed limiters on heavy trucks since 2006. The agencies have a proposal that is due to be published in May.

Mullen intimated that FMCSA has fallen behind on this rule because it spends its energy on political concerns.

“The industry and FMCSA must work together to focus on efforts that have a direct impact on driver safety, as opposed to issues that may be driven by political or economic issues,” he said in his testimony.

He later said the 34-hour restart is an example of a politically driven rule, although he did not say why that might be true. ATA for its part used political means to change the rule, convincing Congress to force the agency to suspend the provision while it conducts more research.

FMCSA was not a witness at the hearing but has strongly defended the restart as science-based rule that will improve driver safety and health.

Mullen said it will be important for Congress to monitor the agency’s research on the suspended restart rule.

He also presented ATA’s case for less emphasis on roadside inspections and more on traffic enforcement, which the association says is a more effective way to prevent crashes.

He said the agency’s recent move to start training police in truck traffic enforcement is flawed and inadequate.

“The training of non-CMV enforcement personnel appears to be an attempt to deflect the criticism of FMCSA’s management of its (commercial vehicle) enforcement program,” Mullen said in his testimony. The agency has not put more money into traffic enforcement, he said.

The enforcement community, represented by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, did not testify but has held that while traffic enforcement is effective it needs to be part of a comprehensive program that includes roadside inspections.

Mullen reiterated ATA’s support for the objectives of the CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) program, as well as the association’s complaints about some of the operational details.

The data in the system is neither complete nor reliable, and it should not be available to the public, he said.

And the agency’s use of all crashes to measure safety performance, whether or not the carrier is at fault, needs to change, he said.

The agency’s recent finding that the costs of determining fault outweigh the benefits only clouds the issue, Mullen said.

He called on the committee to force the agency to set up a system to remove crashes that plainly are not the carrier’s fault.

Comments

  1. 1. Frank Straughn [ January 30, 2015 @ 03:33AM ]

    I think this is a great idea! The speed should be 35mph. We also should have to wear helmets and get our moms to ride with us and hold our hand. I also think it would make trucking even safer if it was illegal to self insure our own companies.

  2. 2. Richard Pingel [ January 30, 2015 @ 05:09AM ]

    I applaud Mr. Mullens emphasis on the the suggestion that Congress monitor the FMCSA's research as there is NO research that shows any SAFETY benenifit for speed limiters.

  3. 3. JL [ January 30, 2015 @ 05:16AM ]

    Just reading these reports makes me mad. The restrictions just keep cinching down on drivers. Why don't we start a campaign to educate the driving public about safe driving practices around trucks?

  4. 4. Watchingu2 [ January 30, 2015 @ 06:02AM ]

    Werner worrys about safety because they will do anything to fill a seat. There also some of the lowest paying jobs.

  5. 5. Vee [ January 30, 2015 @ 06:06AM ]

    How about we re educate every butt hole in Washington that this is a capitalist country with free enterprise!! These big companies keep pushing their hands forward with large sums of money knowing someone will snatch and grab. Putting small fleets out of business they think they'll be able to recoup their fleets with drivers or get the illegals legal. I'm sooooo sick of having to live someone else's agenda. How about regulation on the brokers and big carriers like Swift, Werner, JB Hunt etc.to ensure owner operators and small fleets get paid accordingly!!! Anyone taking more than 15% not cool, Being legal to take over 30 days to pay, not cool (that's if they pay) having to run my butt off for 50 cents a mile to make my ends meet not cool.

  6. 6. 4b [ January 30, 2015 @ 07:07AM ]

    And in other news, the turnover is close to 100%....wonder what causes this strange phenomenon??

  7. 7. Jim [ January 30, 2015 @ 07:42AM ]

    I find it quite interesting that only the large carriers are pushing to get additional regulations passed. It seems quite clear that they want to make it harder for the small fleets and owner/operators to compete in "THEIR" world. They say that they want to "level the playing field" for the industry. More like level the parts that put the advantage in the hands of the small guys. ELDs, speed limiters, yadda yadda yadda. Do they want to level the part of the playing field that includes the purchasing discounts, contract negotiations and customer contact networks? I doubt that! They only want to level the part of the playing field that benefits them because they know that a small fleet or an owner operator will provide better customer service than the big guys because we have better personal contact with the customers. Unfortunately, none of us can argue against the ELDs and other regulations because it would indicate that we are cheating the HOS or some other BS rules at this time otherwise it would not affect us. It will be interesting to see how much it affects the supply network in this country when they make everybody do it strictly by the book. You think the driver shortage is bad now...just wait!

  8. 8. Dennis [ January 30, 2015 @ 04:36PM ]

    If Werner Sam's to speed regulate their trucks that's fine. But nothing gives them the right to demand other companies follow Werner's policies. Mr Mullen feel free to run your company your way and leave everybody else to run their company the way they see fit. The speed limiter isn't going to make anything any safer. In some cases it will make things more dangerous.

  9. 9. Dennis [ January 30, 2015 @ 04:39PM ]

    Sorry that should have said "If Werner wants to speed regulate their trucks....."

  10. 10. Paul Goldstein [ January 31, 2015 @ 09:49AM ]

    I live in California....the land where everything is regulated to death. To sum this whole thing up, I will use the words of Mary Nichols....head of the communist organization called CARB (California Air Resources Board). She said that she wished all the owner operators and small trucrking companies would go away in favor of just a handful of large ones because they would be so much easier to regulate. That's it in a nutshell. Drive the little guys crazy with regulation upon regulation until the little guys can't or won't comply...go figure.

  11. 11. Don [ February 03, 2015 @ 06:02AM ]

    Just what we need all the trucks going the same speed! This guy is nuts! You think the roads are clogged now just wait, don't take this lightly because this is exactly why the big companies keep pushing there own agenda! Passed 3 Werner trucks last night and they all had phones in there hands looking at the screen going down the Interstate!

 

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