Time to Put the Myths and Fictional stats to Rest – Let the Investigation’s Begin


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.

Have the new regulations helped with the so-called problem of ‘Fatigued Driving’?

To answer the above question we will have to look and see if there is even a problem first.

Now back years ago, truck drivers were often taking pills, and or sniffing drugs in order to stay awake so they could roll on and make that dollar.

Those days are long gone, today a truck driver doesn’t need to run 27 hours a day – not that the truck driver today could handle that anyway, but that is besides the point. It’s time we put a lot of these myths, and fictional statistics away once and for all.

A division within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 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.

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 – such as fueling, filling out paperwork, obtaining vehicle repairs and conducting mandatory vehicle inspections – for which they are not paid usually.

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.

I would like to put to bed today some of the myths and fictional things that have been said about trucking in the last 15 years. These same things make truck drivers look bad, and in turn drivers don’t get the respect they deserve.

Myths: Trucks we see on our highways are not all driving under the same management and safety control rules.

Facts: Every aspect of the trucking industry is heavily regulated by DOT and FMCSA. Not to mention the fact that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are constantly proposing some new regulation to add and that it is supposed to be the “save all” regulation and that we will be doomed if it isn’t implemented at once.

Myths:Almost all truckers use a log book of some sort to track their time behind the wheel. Sadly, some drivers fraudulently keep duplicate log books. One book is to show their manager for compensation purposes, and the other is to show the police to avoid being taken out-of-service. This abuse of the law leads to very unsafe driving as the trucker becomes fatigued and sleepy.

Fact: All truck drivers are federally required to keep a logbook to track their time that they spend behind the wheel driving, off duty, on duty not driving, and their sleep time. Again, years ago truck drivers did use two and three different log books in order to keep the wheels turning as this is the only way they are paid. But today truck drivers don’t have to run two or three books, it is almost completely impossible to do now – unless you use a loose leaf logbook – and those I’m sure are quickly becoming extinct.

Myth: The Electronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR) is a logical solution. These devices already used by numerous fleets can track hours, location, speed and other vital statistics automatically.

Fact: EOBR is not a logical solution, as EOBR’s cannot accurately and automatically record a driver’s HOS and 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. So, again how can the EOBR be a logical solution?

Myth:The American Trucking Associations is the recognized leader in representing truckers and the trucking industry in America.

Fact: The only people who believe this are people who are members of or who are involved in the same beliefs as the ATA. The ATA does NOT represent truck drivers, they represent trucking companies who join and pay their membership fees.

Myth:New requirements (regulations) would make our highways safer by taking the choice of driving at extreme speeds and/or driving regularly beyond the allowed time from those who choose to drive too fast and/or fatigued.

Fact: Some so-called safety groups and the ATA want to govern tractor-trailers to 68 mph, all of them. They believe slowing the trucks down to a set speed limit will affect accident survival rates among cars vs tractor-trailers. This will not help when the car “dead stops” in front of the loaded truck. The term “dead stop” I wonder how they came up with that?

The real fact is that most companies have their speeds cut back on the trucks lower than 68 mph now, this is because of insurance companies telling these trucking companies to slow the trucks down or they won’t insure them anymore. This is because the trucking company has had some problems in the past such as too many tickets or fatality accidents, or simply the drivers have torn up the equipment. Simply slowing a truck down by five or ten mph will not have an effect on an accident involving a car and a tractor-trailer. Real statistics show 80% of accidents are caused by the driver of the car not the tractor trailer.

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..

Fact: An EOBR cannot accurately and automatically record a driver’s HOS and 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.

We in the industry for years have had to listen to fictional numbers being tossed around the industry, by these so-called experts. The fictional number of 31% of all tractor trailer accidents are fatigue related. Sorry, but this number is NOT TRUE.

People who believe that more restrictions on truck drivers are needed arrogantly toss statistics about saying here is the proof, we have these statistics from a study done by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB.) The problem is that they don’t tell you “when” that study was performed or on “how many” subjects it really looked at. The sad part is that the 31% number comes from an obscure study that the NTSB did back in 1988 it was titled: Fatigue, Alcohol, Other drugs, and Medical Factors in Fatal-To-The-Driver Heavy Truck Crashes.

The study only looked at 186 accidents in eight states where the driver was killed. The primary reason for the study was to assess the role that alcohol and drugs played in fatal accidents. This study was not scientifically based nor was it a statistically valid examination of general fatigue among truck drivers but it has been sagaciously elevated to that level.

This fictitious 31% 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.

So, with a supposed 31% fatigue related accident rate what will work to reduce the percentage rate?

The “updated” numbers were publicly communicated on September 30, 2010, in a webinar hosted by the FMCSA 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 used to use, and probably the general public would laugh at them if they used such a small number as a point to throw a new regulation on trucking.

Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently won a history making court case. U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank ruled that the Minnesota State Patrol’s inspections to determine fatigue violated truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights. OOIDA, which represents small-business truckers and professional truckers, and its member plaintiff Stephen K. House, filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota State Patrol and individual officers in May 2009. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of truck drivers placed out of service after patrol officers consulted a checklist and arrived at the conclusion the drivers were “fatigued.”

In May 2008, House had been pulled over along with other truckers as part of a mass inspection frenzy conducted by the Minnesota State Police. He was interviewed and asked a series of questions, which included questions regarding neck size, urination habits, and the possible presence of Playboy magazines, TVs and computers in the cab of his truck.

The recent ruling said that there was no evidence that the observations made or recorded during the inspection of House supported a reasonable or articulable suspicion that House was too ill or fatigued to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely.

In light of the facts being shown here, I think there should be a call for a congressional and senatorial review of the entire FMCSA and federal DOT. These are the main agencies that deal with the trucking industry, but maybe we need to look at all these government agencies. We know that already the FMCSA likes to manipulate reports to make them in their favor. In an effort to rationalize a change in federal Hours of Service (HOS) requirements for professional truck drivers, the U.S. DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) misapplied its own crash numbers so as to elevate driver fatigue as a cause of truck crashes.

We also have seen that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had a field supervisor that has pleaded not guilty to a bribery charge, despite recordings of him agreeing to delay a carrier review or audit for cash. Is this an agency that should be regulating the trucking industry? I really think there needs to be an investigation done if to anybody at least these two agencies. How much of the other regulations have they “fudged” in order to get something approved? How many other trucking companies have slid through the cracks of this obviously poorly ran agency?

Truckers say EOBRs will not make highways safer – OOIDA
Historical ruling on truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights – OOIDA
RSA Wants Safer Highways – get educated – Road Safe America
Strike Two! – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Truck Drivers News

© 2011, Truck Drivers News Blog. All rights reserved.

Related Posts:

About admin

I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | |Truck Drivers News Facebook
This entry was posted in Truck Driver Industry and tagged , , , , , , , lane highways, logbook, , , , , sniffing drugs, , , , taking pills, , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: