Over the past year in addition to finishing college and forming the REAL Women in Trucking organization, I have been completing the Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Presentation with PDF’s at the bottom of the page that have more information on the open comment questions.
I was working on question 35 regarding “…shippers and receivers who are the most difficult…” at the time of the tragic Walmart truck crash that killed Comedian James McNair and critically injured Actor/Comedian Tracy Morgan and others who were riding with him.
Of course the backlash goes to the lone driver, Kevin Roper. The Walmart truck he was driving was equipped with all the bells and whistles the government says will make trucks safe. The media reported the driver had not slept in 24 hours and the public interpreted this to mean he was driving for 24 hours. Walmart trucks have e-logs, not paper logs. There is also a great deal of unpaid labor time in trucking. Drivers are expected to watch freight be loaded when they should be napping, take their shower breaks and conduct their personal errands that any normal person has, during designated sleep break times. This plus a number of other labor issues that most civilians and legislators just do not want to educate themselves on until a high profile tragedy occurs.
In the days before the crash, the trucking industry was buzzing over calls for the resignation of Anne Ferro from the Federal Motor Carriers Administration. Following the crash, an ill-timed muscle move to suspend the new 34-hour restart rule was made by the American Trucking Association with the help of “friend” Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). Then I received a call from MSNBC to comment. Although my moment on television was short, I was able to get one point out of my mouth that is an issue that must be addressed to prevent fatigued driving which is truck parking. You can follow this link to see my comments on the NOW with Alex Wagner Program.
Here are some of my other personal observations: Anne Ferro and her research data miss the mark on what causes fatigued drivers. The American Trucking Association is a lobby group that does not represent truck drivers. They represent corporations like Walmart that think of workers as robots. Productivity is the focus of corporations not necessarily safety. This is not something that is socially acceptable so it makes sense that the same corporations that claim safety comes first will silently shift the burden of safety on an individual if they can get away with it. Senator Susan Collins either does not know this or does not care about this. The new 34-hour restart rule is a joke because how it is being implemented and so is the 30 minute break. It is a poorly designed solution made by people who do not care to get out of their comfort zone to see how their rules work in practice. Drivers DO need a break! Unfortunately though, they also need help to stand up against harassment from carriers that insist they keep working even though they are not driving. Truck drivers are considered unskilled labor, employers are not held to the same labor standards in the way they manage productivity from their in-house employees. When a trucker does feel fatigued and must stop for rest, the current federal regulations AND the ones the ATA is fighting for DO NOT allow for enough driver flexibility. Only the driver knows when they need sleep, not the government, not the ATA, not the carriers, not the shippers and receivers. On top of this, when the driver does feel the need to stop and rest there is often no place to stop the truck. This is especially true in the northeast as identified in the “Truck Parking Special Report“.
These are issues that go year after year unresolved though they are well known problems in the trucking industry. Below I have included the text from the most recent PDF compilation that is part of the truck parking survey open comments section. As in the previous sections, Walmart was the most mentioned. My personal hope is that the investigation of the Walmart crash does not focus on one driver, but instead examines an industry, a regulating body and the elected public servants who are not seeing what is as plain as the nose on their face.
Question 35 Below pertains to Shippers and Receivers, HOS, Fatigued Truck Drivers and Safety (more…)