Since there is a big uproar starting now that Obama has announced an agreement with Mexico over the now controversial cross-border program, which will allow Mexican trucks access to US highways again. In 1995 the US and Mexico started a pilot program to allow Mexican trucks to travel throughout the US delivering loads brought in from Mexico. The US trucks were allowed to do the same in Mexico, but safety and security concerns spurred the United States to bar Mexican trucks on U.S. roadways. 16 years later the safety and security concerns still exist, but Obama agreed to allow the Mexican trucks back into the US.
Obama signed a 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which included a provision to end the Department of Transportation’s trucking project with Mexico. In retaliation the Mexican government placed illegally $2.5 billion in tariffs on a variety of U.S. goods. United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, should have investigated the illegal tariffs when Mexico first placed them. But instead he showed his cowardliness and decided to let it be and pay the tariffs.
Next we find that Obama and Ray LaHood not only screwed American truck drivers with this “deal” but he put the screws to the American tax payers too, as in the deal with Mexico that he agreed to has Americans paying for the Electronic On-board Recorders for the Mexican trucks.
Not only are these Mexican trucks going to take some freight lanes away from American truckers, but US Truck drivers and taxpayers are going to foot the bill for the EOBRs for the Mexican trucking companies. Neither taxpayers or US truck drivers should have to foot the bill for the Mexican trucking industry to comply with American safety standards. It is outrageous that we would spend tax dollars to pay for equipment on Mexican trucks; equipment which either the Mexican government or the Mexican carriers themselves should be required to pay for.
In the last couple of days I have seen a Senator and U.S. Representative raise questions concerning this deal and why Americans are going to be footing the bill for Mexico’s trucks. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit – at least seems to be looking out for American Truckers, and taxpayers. He sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood requesting additional details regarding the proposed pilot program the U.S. is negotiating with Mexican officials. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) has also sent a letter to LaHood with several concerns about this deal.
DeFazio’s main concerns were:
- Mexican carriers can obtain permanent operating authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) after 18 months in the pilot program. That permanent authority would not be rescinded were Congress or the Administration to terminate the Mexican truck pilot program.
- DeFazio is also concerned about the legal authority of DOT to implement a permanent program.
- Next DeFazio is concerned about a proposal to use scarce Highway Trust Fund dollars to pay for the Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR) for Mexican trucks in the program. This proposal would require American taxpayers to subsidize Mexican truck compliance with American safety standards and regulations. This is simply unacceptable.
Pryor’s main concern is:
- Specifically, he is concerned with the requirement to purchase Electronic On-Board Recorders for Mexican trucks with U.S. taxpayer money and the potential corruption of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials who are responsible for inspecting participating carriers.
Both support the requirement that carriers use EOBRs to demonstrate compliance with hours of service laws, and to reduce fatigue related accidents. This is where we need to discuss the matter about “Fatigue related accidents” again, I guess. An EOBR is an electronic device attached to a commercial motor vehicle, which is used to record the amount of time a vehicle is being driven. The driving hours of commercial drivers – truck and bus drivers – are regulated by a set of rules known as the hours-of-service(HOS). The HOS are rules intended to prevent driver fatigue, by limiting the amount of time drivers spend driving commercial vehicles.
The EOBR will do nothing to help with the factitious “fatigue related accident” because there are not enough fatigue related accidents. For years the trucking industry has had to listen to all this hype about fatigued driving, and what should be done about it. We have seen a few changes in the Hours-of-Service (HOS), we have seen more and more regulations added – there is even talk of adding more ludicrous regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates nearly all aspects of the trucking industry. Truck drivers are limited by the number of daily and weekly hours they may drive, the roads and highways they may drive upon. In some states, trucks also have special speed limits, in addition to restrictions on driving in certain lanes – normally the far left lanes of multiple lane highways. So truckers are well covered in the area of regulations.
Truck drivers spend up to 11 hours a day driving, FYI – truck drivers only get paid to drive usually – and up to 14 hours a day engaged in various duties – including driving time – also included is fueling, filling out paperwork, obtaining vehicle repairs and conducting mandatory vehicle inspections,– for which they are not paid usually. They must take a federally required 10 hour break after the 11 hour drive and or 14 hour workday.
Over-the-road (OTR) drivers often spend weeks away from home, spending their time off and sleeping at truck stops or rest areas when parking is available. Driving can be relatively dangerous work, as truck drivers account for 12% of the highest total number of all work-related deaths, and are five times more likely to die on the job than the average worker.
The lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, and work-related injuries also contribute to the driver’s generally risk-prone lifestyle not to mention the fact that truckers usually don’t get to pick their rest time, as it could be at anytime during a 24 hour day. No two days are alike in trucking, everyday something new will show its ugly face and a trucker will have to adapt to it and go on.
Back on subject here about “fatigue related accidents” they simply don’t happen as often as many safety groups and our own FMCSA and DOT would project them too. The Fatigue driving myth: Though difficult to regulate without the use of EOBRs, truck drivers are required by law to drive no more than eleven hours without a ten hour break. Some disregard the law by choosing to put more miles in that day and thus generate more revenue.
This does not happen anymore. Maybe years ago, but very few drivers now would be willing to try this. If a driver today is caught driving over his or her HOS, then it is because of the lack of safe and sufficient parking. Rest areas and truck stops only hold so many trucks at a time, if no where to park is found then a driver must drive on until a place is found.
An EOBR will not fix this problem as backers of EOBRs tout. An EOBR cannot accurately nor automatically record a driver’s HOS and change of duty status. They can only track the movement and location of a truck. They require human interaction to record any change of duty status – just like a paper logbook.
A fictitious 31% fatigued related accident number is thrown around by many who want to mandate expensive on-board “safety” technologies into trucks – saying it’s needed – that this will end the fatigued driving. Sadly though these people are wrong. There is no-way that by adding an EOBR to a truck that it will automatically be safer despite what these people want you to believe – it just won’t do it.
FMCSA publicly communicated on September 30, 2010, in a webinar titled: 2009 – Historic Truck Crash Declines. The real number is 1.4% fatigue related accidents in trucking. But, safety groups won’t believe this number because it is minute compared to the mythical 31% number they use.
Now on the subject of drowsy driving, I am sure this occurs a lot. As mentioned before the lack of parking is a very real problem – and nobody really wants to address that problem that has the means to fix it. I mentioned earlier about a federally required 10 hour break that truckers must comply with after 11 hours of driving day and a 14 hour work day. In this 10 hour break, they must use this to fill out more paperwork, get a shower, eat, and do laundry, that sounds simple enough. Well, in a perfect world it might be simple, but in a truckers world its not. This would be the reason for drowsy driving. Also, the fact that truck drivers have irregular schedules and need to have flexibility in the HOS – but DOT thinks it knows better.
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