Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro

Job Pressures

Introduction

Truck drivers face enormous job pressures due to the regulatory nature of the occupation, combined with the delivery on-time schedules and maximum hours of service rules under the FMCSR, which creates a complex environment for the truck driver much different from many professions. Everyone knows that all people in the world that have a job will face certain levels of job pressures. Regardless of your occupation, profession or job type, everyone has some form of job pressure that create stress for them. Pressure, also known as stress, places many different psychological effects on different types of people. Some individuals can handle a high level of job pressure or work stress and function quite well, while other individuals can only handle small amounts of pressure without breaking.

There are many different kinds of job pressures that employees have to cope with every single day of their professional lives.

  • Being forced by management to work longer than normal hours.
  • Having to comply with governmental and regulatory processes and protocols which make work more difficult.
  • Having to prepare reports, logs and other paperwork to establish that you have performed necessary job duties.
  • Having to deal with supervisors who lack compassion and choose to force their work onto their employees rather than do it themselves.
  • Being in a position that lacks adequate training where the job becomes unduly stressful because of inappropriate training.
  • Having to deal with customers who are unhappy or mad about delays in progress of the job.
  • Being underpaid to perform work that demands a higher level of compensation.
  • Being treated as an inferior by a person who is really your inferior.
  • Dealing with nepotism.
  • Dealing with unfair management processes that provide job position increases to people who do not deserve those increased positions.
  • Being treated with a lack of respect.
  • Being forced to do more than your fair share of the work in the total work environment which should be more of a team effort.
  • Feeling helpless by being stuck in a job with no chance of upward movement.
  • Having the feeling that you are outside of the norm of the remaining employees in your team which creates a feeling of abnormality.
  • Being taken for granted by your supervisors and employers.
  • Being treated by abusive superiors who believe that they can abuse people that they supervise simply because they are in a position of power.
  • The new and developing ability of supervisors to contact you when you are away from a job by cell phone, beeper or other messaging device.
  • Simply reaching a period of time at your job where you become burned out and lose interest in the job.

Employees at trucking carriers and other businesses have many reasons that cause stress and job pressure on a daily basis. When dispatch officers, safety directors, risk managers and training personnel become stressed their stress (which runs down hill) can have a disastrous effect on lower level employees or independent contractors, usually the truck driver. Stress usually slides downhill to the lowest level. In a trucking company, that stress usually flows straight from the top down to the truck driver who is actually the main cog in the wheel that creates the ability for that trucking company or motor carrier to stay active in commerce making a profit.

Stress of the truck driver is simply a state of mind. Stress from rules and regulations as well as supervisors can cause a severe chain reaction that affects the truck driver’s performance on the highways. One of the main stresses for the truck driver is the requirement that the truck driver meet the requirements of the delivery moment, so that the delivery shipment is not late. This pressure to make on-time deliveries causes more stress than many of the other factors in trucking and job duties for the normal truck driver. This is the factor that causes truck drivers to keep two sets of logs or books. On-time deliveries create a need to violate the maximum hours of service rules. If trucking companies would simply pay their drivers who are over maximum hours requirements, this would help the truck driver eliminate distress.

There are many other reasons why truck drivers have stress. The on-time delivery requirement is likely the most significant reason for their stress. A second for stress for the truck driver is the problem related to meeting the maximum hours of service regulations under the FMCSR. Safe motor carriers do not make their drivers violate the hours-of-service rules. However, smaller companies and motor carriers who do not care about safety push their drivers to meet these on-time deliveries at whatever cost. The drivers know that if they do not arrive on time, they will be punished, reprimanded or fired. This illogical industry rule is simply stated as motor carriers who push truck drivers to driver over legal hours to meet on-time delivery deadlines cause accidents, death and carnage. Smaller motor carriers with less truck drivers and less employees usually violate the hours-of-service rules more than the larger carriers with an adequate Fleet.

Truck Drivers are Harassed Dispatch Supervisors to Deliver On-time Deliveries as Fast as Possible

The motor carrier industry has been set up by the overall industry with a program of attempting to get deliveries to a customer as fast as possible, on time. This ties with the associated requirements that the deliveries be undamaged and shipped at the lowest possible rate. This industry rule has created a substantial danger and hazard to all motorists on US highways. The reason for this is quite simple. All management personnel, from the driver all the way to the owner of the company, are trying to follow the same rule of mandatory on-time deliveries regardless of the cost of human life. In order to follow rules that do on-time delivery. There are only two different alternatives that can reach the goal of on-time delivery. The first is to have sufficient drivers, such that they can drive within the maximum hours of service rules and comply safely. Unfortunately, the second alternative is simply that the motor carrier operates with a crew of truck drivers that are insufficient to meet the shipping deadlines. Systems of compensation are developed which dock pay for everyone down the line, including the management, supervisors, dispatch officers, bill of lading personnel, and ultimately the drivers. A truck driver may drop off a load at 6:00 AM in the morning, in one city and be told that he must be clear across the country later that day for another pickup or delivery.

This makes weary and fatigue truck drivers who fear for the loss of their job. Truck drivers become reprimanded when they have late deliveries. If they get too many, reprimands, they lose their job and cannot see the families or themselves. This self-fulfilling prophecy causes injury and death and mayhem. There are a number of reasons why this hazardous system is in place that creates unrealistic deadlines. Those reasons are discussed below.

  • The Customer Mind-Set has Changed Over the Last Several Decades to a Need Based System Designed Around Timely Delivery

Years ago businesses would stock inventory, keeping fairly decent supply on hand. Over the last several decades, as costs of production and inventory costs have risen, many businesses have taken to having showrooms that have no actual inventory. A customer may come into a furniture store hoping to buy a living room set to take home the dame day. Unfortunately, the business does not stock that inventory in on hand. It is only on display for sale by future order. The customer wants to get their new furniture urgently. The store promises that they can have the purchased furniture in a certain period of time. The furniture is not yet built, but becomes built once the order is placed. The minute the order is placed, then the shipment process begins. This process is set to be delivered within a certain period, time and place. Customers cancel shipments after orders do not make it on time. The urgent needs of society combined with the inability of sellers of goods to keep sufficient stock on hand for immediate sale now changes how shipment works in a modern era.

With worldwide manufacturing and distribution from China to Argentina, it is changing the economic marketplace, such that the competition worldwide has now lowered the production prices of many goods sold in the common marketplace. An example would be the dropping prices of television sets, which continue to drop in price, year by year, as the television sets get more sophisticated. A Plasma television set that cost $15,000 ten years ago now sells for $1500. Best Buy and other retailers research and plan to buy at the lowest possible wholesale price for the goods. Once sufficient orders are anticipated or completed they begin the shipment process and compel rapid delivery systems to be in place in order to satisfy customer appetite.

Once the order is placed into line, the shipper is contacted to set up at an anticipated pickup and delivery time where the trucking company assigns a truck driver to pick up a shipment and deliver that shipment by a specified time, date and place. The faster the process is meant to be, the faster the shipment deadline becomes. Once the speed of delivery becomes an issue, then, safety is thrown away as a concern or is minimized. The reason safety is thrown way is because safety costs money to properly create, plan, implement and follow down the motor carrier chain of distribution. When time gets in the way. Safety goes out the door.

Time of delivery has become so important that retailers, like Amazon are now testing miniature drones to deliver to customers from shipping distribution centers across the country and seeking FAA approval in order to have thousands of miniature drones deliver products dropped straight to a door of a customer. It is anticipated that with the increasing needs of consumers, combined, combined with worldwide competition that shipping needs will become faster than they are in 2014. As stated, the faster the product must be delivered, the last safety will be attached to the delivery process.

Companies like Amazon, Best Buy and others understand that the speed of delivery, combined with the lowest cost of delivery will bring the most profit. As delivery needs grow, trucking and shipment needs grow, thereby creating an overall rapid on-time delivery process to please the customer and to increase profit. Profit is obviously is higher when shipment costs are faster and lower.

Consumers’ expectations have risen rapidly and unrealistically. The faster the company delivers its products and services to the customer, the more orders it ends up getting. Ultimately, the higher the companies’ net revenue and profit is the faster the entire shipment industry must move.

  • Competition is Increasing Which Makes Shipment Needs Faster and More Unsafe Tougher

With worldwide competition increasing, trucking companies and their drivers must move faster and faster in order to please consumers. The weaker and smaller companies in the motor carrier industry collapse due to their inability to compete with the larger motor carriers with an economy of scale. They can deliver goods faster and cheaper. Those motor carriers and truck drivers who leg behind will likely disappear from the marketplace and file bankruptcy. Motor carriers tend to develop shipment models and utilize software that have time deadlines placed into the shipment software which provides notices to dispatch operators that a shipment is too far away to meet the time deadline. When a shipment is appearing to arrive late that notification process causes the dispatch officer to notify the truck driver to tell the truck driver that they are behind schedule. The truck driver then has 2 choices. The truck driver can speed to try and make up lost time or the truck driver can drive longer and over the maximum hours of service limits to make the shipment arrive on time. This is how the entire shipment process breaks down and becomes foreseeably hazardous.

A trucking company that cannot provide services like their larger competitors will automatically lead to a loss of business from competing larger companies due to late deliveries. The owners of the company know that they will go out of business if they don’t meet the time demands of the purchasing wholesalers and retailers as well as consumers. Everyone is in a hurry and very few care about safety.

As a result of this overall philosophy of timely delivery, motor carriers and dispatch officers push and force the truck drivers to rush at top speed and deliver the packages on an unrealistic time deadline that cannot possibly be met without speeding and violating the FMCSR maximum hours rules. The avoidance of compliance with the maximum hours of service rules and all of the regulations under the FMCSR causes serious death and injury to thousands of people across the entire United States each year.

Some larger trucking companies, try to avoid violating the system by hiring sufficient numbers of truck drivers as well as relief drivers. When drivers are known to be out-of-time to drive, dispatch can send in a relief driver who will pick up the load from its then present location and give the tractor and truck driver time for rest. The shipment continues attached to a new tractor with a drive who is rested. Unfortunately, the number of motor carriers that try to be safe are few and far between.

  • The Threat of Becoming Unemployed

The threat of becoming unemployed as a truck driver who fails to deliver on time is a known and foreseeable concept that all truck drivers are aware of. Truck drivers are usually paid on a per mile basis. When a trucking company pays a truck driver on a per mile basis or on a per pound basis then the truck driver becomes aware that driving more miles in a shorter period of time, leads to greater gross and net profit and revenue for that truck driver. Many truck drivers are independent contractors who lease themselves out to larger motor carriers. The truck drivers know that they are going to have to comply with whatever dispatch requires. The truck driver knows that if they don’t deliver on time they will be fired or reprimanded.

Many trucking companies reduce the rate of pay per mile for the trucking company driver when they are late on their delivery times. These punishment systems make the truck driver who has a substantial amount of overhead lose money and ultimately make less net revenue to feed the driver and their family. Truck drivers, like everyone else in the world, have to be concerned with meeting monthly obligations for house payments, car payments, sending their kids to school and all other obligations of daily life. The fact, they chose truck driving as a profession and that truck drivers must routinely violate the FMCSR maximum hours of service rules, is not something that is taught in truck driving schools. This is a learned behavior from the motor carriers and dispatch officers that supervise the delivery routes for the goods.

Once the driver starts driving in the real world setting, the driver learns that there are 2 different rules that are followed. The industry overtly professes to hold itself up to a higher standard stating that it does not push truck drivers to violate the maximum hours rule. The real standard followed is one of rapid on-time delivery and overworking truck drivers, which causes them to violate the maximum hour of service rules. Lawyers who litigate against the trucking industry, know how false the make-believe industry standard of safety really is. The safersystem website snapshot allows any person to randomly view thousands of motor carriers and check their safety record. A routine and random check of any group of motor carriers will find it is commonplace to find safety statistics showing drivers who should have been taken out-of-service for a myriad of reasons. Much of the time, those reasons or for unsafely driving without enough remaining time on their logs and/or overloading tractor-trailers to drive a heavier load farther across the country to be paid more gross and net profit. These truck drivers and motor carriers do not follow the safety rules set forth under the FMCSR. Indeed, just the opposite is true. Safety records of motor carriers on the safersystem website establish that many companies violate the rules on a daily and weekly basis without punishment. The motor carriers are aware that the funding limitations of the FMCSA and DOT, combined with the funding limitations of State and local governments and their policing officers and agencies, leads to an inability to completely police and enforce compliance with the FMCSR.

Many truck drivers have purchased their tractor unit or larger trucks through financing with a small down payment. This leads to massive monthly truck payments which are sometimes higher than a mortgage for a house. The mortgage must be met or the truck driver will lose the truck. In order to meet the mortgage the truck driver has to drive a certain set amount of miles to meet the minimum amount of miles on a per mile pay system to obtain enough pay for the tractor payment, insurance and taxes, as well as fuel for the vehicle. This well-known fact causes the truck drivers knowingly driving too fast and over hours to meet deadlines.

The global economic crisis has affected the shipping industry, just as it has affected business world wife. Back in 2008 when the recession was getting underway, shipping started to drop as the economy slowed and the recession progressed. As the economy slowly turned around since 2009 and beyond the shipping needs manufacturers started to increase steadily. With the shipping needs of goods globally increasing on an annual basis, an accompanying need for more shipping follows. As the shipments increase, there is a corresponding increase in unsafe driving statistics which are measured by the DOT.

The fear of unemployment to the truck driver is a major driving force in their life. Truck drivers are in the middle class of society. Independent truck drivers can make a living, but they never really get ahead due to the high costs of operation of a tractor-trailer across the United States. These drivers do not intend to be bad people or unsafe drivers, they simply are trying to meet their financial obligations and raise their families like everyone else. Unfortunately, motor carriers and the shipping deadlines do not allow them to safely comply with her job duties. Pushing the driver to exceed human tolerance limits causes accidents.

Motor carriers who reduce the pay by mile to the truck driver and those that reduce their pay for not meeting an on-time delivery are causing grief and tragedy on highways by pushing their drivers to an unrealistic level, just to make an increased profit. The government can step in and mandate the use of onboard computer systems and satellite tracking that will send signals to the motor carriers when a truck driver is approaching maximum hours of service violations and will run out of time. Indeed, a system can be set in place where the computerized onboard system would give preliminary notice simultaneously to the truck driver and the motor carrier that the driver is out of time. If the driver did not stop working at the appropriate maximum hour limit then the ignition could be automatically turned off similar to an intoxilyzer unit for a truck driver. The drunk driver must blow into the unit every 15 minutes or the car will ceases to operate. The truck could be programmed to give the truck driver a one, two, or three hour notice that he is running out of time. As the truck approached the last hour of driving it could flash a warning with a countdown to the truck driver that he only has so many remaining minutes to find a truck stop or motel to pull over and rest. At the appropriate expiration of time, the tractor ignition would simply cease working for a period of hours until the truck driver could start the vehicle back up and drive after sufficient rest. The truck driver would then be shut down until sufficient period of time expired where the truck driver had sufficient rest and available hours to continue to drive. This would cause the motor carrier and dispatch officers to send in a relief driver with a new tractor. The industry does not want to have safety systems in place like this because it will cause a loss of profits to the overall trucking industry nationwide.

  • The High Level of Compliance Violations is Not Well Recognized

The general public does not understand how serious the level of noncompliance is. Trucking companies go to great levels to advertise public service announcements about the dangers of tractor-trailers trying to blame drivers for failing to recognize the dangers associated with being near a truck or tractor-trailer. These false public service announcements fail to mention the fact that the trucking industry in general is causing millions of injuries and deaths because of failure to comply with the FMCSR mandatory regulations.

Trucking schools that do recognize the dangers associated with failure to comply with the FMCSR fail to train the drivers how important it is to follow the regulations to at tee. These trucking schools don’t see teach real-world practice. The philosophical environment of all schools fails to bring into actual practical experience how the system is set up to violate rules. It is clear the truck drivers are not taught in truck driving school that they will be required to follow dispatch commands about pickups and deliveries. It is clear the trucking truck driving schools do not teach the truck drivers that the truck drivers will be reprimanded, have pay cuts and be terminated if they do not fall in line with the demands of the dispatch officers. If this training were put into place both at truck driving school and during orientation schools at the commencement of a new job taught at the commencement of employment at a new motor carrier, accident rates would fall. If a system was actually implemented as discussed in other chapters of this book that would turn off the ignition system once drivers were out-of-hours, compliance with the FMCSR could be readily achieved and accident rates would fall.

Trucking schools do not teach the drivers how serious situations can be when they become fatigued and tired and violate the maximum hours of service rules. Truck driving schools should teach the drivers that they should immediately report their trucking companies to the FMCSA when they make them drive over hours. The problem with this logic is that once the truck driver is out on the road and trying to meet the demands of their financial obligations they become a pawn in the motor carrier distribution system. This is not to say that all truck drivers are in noncompliance. All it takes is one truck driver to violate the rules before an accident takes place. When you combine one truck driver who fails to comply and then multiply that drive by another 1000 unsafe drives, the gravity of the situation becomes clear.

Approximately 500,000 truck related accidents occur in the United States on an annual basis. This provides a clear basis for the understanding that the entire industry needs to change to become more regulated with a mandated higher level of compliance. Financial incentives such as tax relief should be introduced as legislation in order to give motor carriers that have safer driving statistics a reduction on taxes. Motor carriers who place onboard computer systems with satellite devices into their tractor-trailers so that they can monitor the hours of service limits of their drivers should again be given tax credits and additional tax reduction benefits for purchasing these costly devices.

A regulatory system needs to be implemented where truck drivers with a certain maximum number of violations must be re-trained in trucking school and then followed more closely. A certain motor carrier in the State of Missouri actually proposed to the DOT that each of their drivers should be able to have 60 safety violations in any given six-month period of time before being reprimanded. This logic was based on the argument that the industry has trouble hiring enough drivers due to a known problem with driver turnover that reaches as high as 150% turnover rates per year.

That company had a temporary loss of their DOT license which required an appeal to a federal circuit court. Even though their DOT license was reinstated, it did not change the manner of their compliance with the safety regulations.

Truck drivers who work for companies like this particular company know that the company has an unsafe safety score and choose to work for that company knowing that they will push them to the end that limits of human capability. Those truck drivers are complicit in their choice to work for that company and other companies following similar unsafe driving practices, because they know that the company well not likely terminate or reprimand them, no matter how high their safety violation rate becomes. Those drivers know that they can drive 100 or more hours a week and violate the FMCSR maximum hours rules without fear of retribution or punishment. Many motor carriers exist that are similar to the company being discussed.

When truck drivers and motor carriers impliedly or expressly agreed to violate the FMCSR in order to make money. Those drivers and their supervisors and owners of the companies should be stopped from harming innocent drivers on US roads.

Other Types of Job Pressures Cause the Truck Driver Extreme Stress Leading to Accidents

Motor carriers often will look only at a few criteria in determining whether a truck driver is operating safely. Many times, they will simply look to asking the truck driver verbally if they are still in possession of remaining hours to drive without confirmation. The lack of inquiry to determine the actual amount of hours by the motor carrier is a knowing and reckless omission which is intended to turn a blind eye to safety. There are many other factors that cause the motor carrier to push the truck driver into a dangerous fatigued state. Measurements and forecasting can be performed by the motor carrier for almost all of the following events and occurrences that are known and foreseeable problems of everyday over-the-road truck driving operations. It is little understood why motor carriers fail to take these factors into consideration when placing their drivers onto extended long mileage shipments across the United States.

Most of the time, the employers only take into account the distance the truck driver has to travel to complete a job. They do not consider the several other factors that are involved in completing a job out on the road. Some of the different factors that may cause a truck driver to become late on their schedule where they automatically become behind schedule are:

  • Heavy traffic due to normal traffic and/or roadside emergencies
  • Equipment breakdowns that are foreseeable like traveling with worn out tires and brakes
  • Traffic jams due to other accidents in areas where bad roads are known to exist or where construction is known to exist
  • Traveling in rainy, icy, high weather and other bad weather conditions such as storms causing wet roads or ice storms causing black ice where the truck driver should drive slower or cease operation entirely and wait for the weather to clear
  • Equipment malfunctioning unexpectedly due to avoidance of warning lights on engine temperature and low oil or antifreeze
  • Delivery instructions which have an incorrect address
  • Failure to provide satellite direction systems to guide the driver to the place of delivery using the shortest route possible

These factors and criteria stated above are just a few of the many different daily hazards that occur to the average truck driver on a daily basis. There are many situations that are hazardous, which are difficult to anticipate. That is why the trained truck driver will be anticipating hazards and making sure they are not fatigued, so that they can have adequate perception and reaction time in order to use proper defensive driving techniques.

Driving a large truck is very much different from driving smaller motor vehicles that are able to stop and maneuver much more capably. Truck drivers are supposed to be taught that driving a large 80,000 pound object down a highway may not stop quickly. Drivers have to be taught to brake early and often in order to avoid traffic that is ahead of them while constantly looking for potential hazards that may cross their path. When the driver overloads the tractor-trailer, this leads to a much longer stopping distance. When brakes are bad, this leads to a much longer stopping distance. When tires are worn this leads to a much longer stopping distance, especially in icy, rainy, misting and oil slick surface areas. The truck driver who is working for a motor carrier that fails to pay for timely and legitimate repair and maintenance is knowingly contributing to unsafe driving conditions. Drivers know when they should not be on a road surface because the equipment they are driving is unsafe. Their choice to drive an unsafe truck or tractor-trailer leads to foreseeable collisions, injury and death. Almost all truck driving accidents are preventable. The truck driver and the motor carrier must take on a dual responsibility to provide a safe driving environment that is not driven by profit and on-time delivery.

Untrained truck drivers cause accident and death. One semi accident can cause carnage similar to movie scenes in action movies where the larger truck can take out many smaller vehicles and cars with one simple mistake in judgment. The lack of training by the motor carrier is the main reason that the accidents occur. Contempt breeds contempt. If a truck driver is pushed too far because of monetary obligations and penalties for late deliveries that truck driver will cause death and destruction wherever they go.

Driving Too Fast To Meet Delivery Deadlines

Most people have herd of the term “speed kills.” When you take speeding and combine it with the mass and force of a large truck or tractor-trailer, the phrase “speed kills” has more meaning. Speed in a massive truck will lead to accelerated force and mass, limited stopping ability and more forceful destructive energy. Truck drivers are supposed to drive slower than other drivers. Many highway systems have different speed limits for truck drivers, especially at night time. This is because of the delayed ability of the tractor-trailer to be able to stop in the emergency or hazard event.

Speeding in massive vehicles without limitation is a known danger in the motor carrier industry. Many safe motor carriers place speed limit control devices on the truck which prevents the truck from traveling over a certain preset speed. Speed limit monitoring devices are generally known as governors. When governors are installed on the vehicle, it stops the tractor-trailer from actually moving at a speed greater than the preset speed limit maximum on the device. This is one certain way of ensuring that a tractor-trailer and its driver cannot speed over a certain unsafe level of speed. Those companies that utilize governors are to be commended for their attempt at reducing the speed of their trucking fleet. Many companies do not use governors. The companies that do not use governors are knowingly allowing their motor carriers and drivers to operate at unsafe speeds. Governors are not expensive. They are cheap and financially affordable devices that can be purchased inexpensively by a motor carrier to ensure that the vehicle is not driven above safe speed limits.

The EU is exploring a scheme to install speed limiting devices on cars and trucks. A proposal has been made in Brussels to improve road safety within the 28-member state bloc that all cars and vehicles be fitted with a device to prevent speeding, which essentially would prevent any speed in excess of 70 mph through automatic control areas. That proposed system would use cameras on highways in certain known dangerous areas to detect speeding. When vehicles are detected to be speeding faster than the speed limit, the car or truck would start to automatically apply the brakes that would slow the vehicle to a safer speed for the area. The technology is considered by some to be too much like big brother and is not welcome. The point of all this is that a system can be designed for motor carriers and drivers of trucks, semi’s and large tractor-trailers that would be able to detect trucks operating at unsafe speeds by use of cameras and/or satellite devices that detect when a truck is operating at too fast of a speed in a known dangerous traffic area. The system would automatically slow the truck down in the dangerous area to a safer speed, which would in turn, prevent injuries and save lives.

The reason that truck drivers drive at faster speeds is to meet the on-time deadlines imposed upon them by their dispatchers. When a dispatcher tells a truck driver that they must be at a certain destination by a mandatory deadline, they are placing the truck driver into an uncomfortable position where the truck driver must speed or lose pay or their job.

The concept of preventable accidents is even more prevalent in this circumstance. Motor carriers and their drivers can prevent accidents by simply driving at the safe speed for the existing traffic conditions and avoiding speeding and heavy traffic conditions because of the known inability to be able to stop quickly or to fear rapidly without overturning. This is a simple matter of training, supervision and installation of monitoring devices like governors. The saving of lives certainly outweighs the minor costs associated with purchase and installation of governors on all large trucks.

The Dangers of Speeding are Mandatory Requirements for Truck Drivers

The dangers of speeding are generally well known among drivers of all kinds from all over the world. People who drive out on the roads are mostly aware of how dangerous speeding can be and what it can result in. Public information commercials play on television and the radio across the United States advocating that “speed kills’ urging driver to slow down. Actor Paul Walker, known from the movie series, The Fast and the Furious, was killed in December 2013 while riding in an extremely fast Porsche. Celebrities on television warn of the dangers associated with speeding. Regardless, speeding will likely always exist as a danger to society. The problem with speeding in a massive truck is that the mass and force of the truck can cause immense damage through a destructive force that is many times more dangerous than with a passenger car.

Part 392.2 of the FMCSR provides that every commercial motor vehicle must be operated in accordance with the laws, ordinances and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is being operated. However, if a regulation of the federal motor carrier safety administration imposes a higher standard of care that law, ordinance or regulation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration then this regulation must be complied with.

These laws for motor carriers are mandatory laws that cannot be avoided. Part 392.6 of the FMCSR requires that no motor carrier shall schedule, permit or require the operation of any commercial motor vehicle between points in such period of time as would necessitate the commercial motor vehicle being operated at speeds greater than those prescribed by the jurisdiction in or through which the vehicle is being operated.

Part 392.71 of the FMCSR requires that no driver shall use a radar detector in a commercial motor vehicle or operate a commercial motor vehicle that is equipped with or contains any radar detector. It further requires that no motor carrier shall require or permit a driver to violate paragraph (a) of that regulation which requires the driver not to use a radar detector that allows the driver to speed.

Speeding is known as the third most hazardous activity out on the roads. It is the third leading contributing factor in traffic crashes. Here are a number of reasons why truck drivers go above the speed limit; apart from trying to meet deadlines.

  • They do not realize how serious the consequences of speeding a truck are
  • They do not understand the physics associated with increasing speed or velocity as it relates to mass and force which will create destructive energy in an accident
  • They are operating a tractor-trailer or truck without a governor
  • They are operating a tractor-trailer or truck that does not have a satellite onboard system that monitors speed
  • They do not care about safety and drive fast to meet time deadlines
  • They are harassed by supervising dispatch managers and to drive their trucks faster than the speed limit to meet on-time deadlines
  • They speed to make a greater net profit per day and week
  • Speeding allows them to finish a job early and take time off
  • The driver disobeys laws on a regular basis and is not punished by the motor carrier they work for
  • The truck driver is compensated for early deliveries with higher bonuses
  • The truck driver is not properly trained to know how speed affects perception and reaction time combined with an increased stopping distance
  • The driver is overconfident and believes that he/she can stop safely in any circumstances regardless of weather and road conditions
  • The driver lacks self-recognition skills that normal safe operators have
  • The drivers take roads that are known to have less police monitoring

Truck drivers that are allowed to build up numerous violations without penalties by motor carriers continue to violate the laws on a routine and habitual basis. These drivers are known to be unsafe drivers who speed. The companies condone the speeding because the driver is making on-time deliveries which increases company revenue and net profit. The motor carrier benefits by the driver history of violating the State and federal speeding laws. This is a routine occurrence that happens every day across all 48 states. The trucking company condones the driver speeding activity. When the motor carrier condones the speeding of their fleet drivers, it is nothing more than express or implied ratification of the drivers’ illegal activity in order to increase company profits at the risk of the motoring public.

How Does the Present Regulatory System Punish the Speeding Truck Driver?

The regulations discussed above in the FMCSR make it clear that drivers of large trucks are prevented and should not speed. There can be serious consequences to the truck driver if they are actually caught and properly monitored and supervised by their hiring motor carrier and internal safety department of that trucking company.

There are serious consequences for a truck driver who repeatedly speeds. Some of the consequences can include:

  • The driver can lose their DOT CDL commercial driver’s license
  • The driver can cause an accident resulting in death and be punished for reckless or negligent homicide
  • The driver can cause huge monetary losses to a driver of a car or passenger in the car when he/she speeds and causes an accident with a serious and life-altering injury
  • The driver can be suspended and lose pay
  • The driver can be in a Rule of 3, disciplinary system where the third speeding results in the loss of their job
  • The driver can be reported to computerized hiring information services like DAC services so that the driver is not hired by other motor carriers
  • The driver can be subject to civil and criminal penalties including jail time
  • The driver can have a permanent revocation of their CDL driver’s license
  • The driver can be killed as a result of speeding

It is estimated that approximately 13,000 lives are lost each year due to speeding alone. This number is only increasing year by year. About 5,000 of these deaths are caused by speeding trucks. Mandatory regulations requiring governors and satellite onboard monitoring systems can eliminate many deaths related to speeding.

In addition to the issuance of mandatory regulations requiring the use of governors and satellite onboard monitoring systems or the use of cameras at known high traffic dangerous locations which utilize onboard computerized systems to slow the trucks, there are other types of safety related methods that can be utilized to stop a truck driver from speeding. Obviously, the mandatory regulations, governors and satellite onboard systems are the best prevention method possible. The reason that they are not presently mandated is because the trucking industry does not want to spend the necessary monies on the purchase of the devices. The trucking industry utilizes a lobbying effort that spends hundreds of millions of dollars with Congress and state legislatures to stop and prevent the mandatory regulation of the industry. The industry makes a fortune and can afford to line the pockets of State and Federal Senators and Congressman to accept bribes and kickbacks. The old boy system has always existed and always well. Unfortunately, Congress can be bought by unscrupulous lobbyists working for the trucking industry.

The following steps can be taken to stop truck drivers from speeding out on the roads unnecessarily:

  • The trucking company can provide weekly safety meetings to outline the importance of safe driving which includes not speeding and comprehensively test after each safety meeting
  • The trucking company can utilize training and orientation systems like the Smith System and JJ Keller systems of driver training which reinforces the dangers of speeding to the mind of the driver
  • The trucking company can impose a disciplinary system with the Rule of 3 and let the drivers know that three strike and you are out of a job
  • The trucking company can retrain the driver after any accident about how not to speed
  • The trucking company can do annual Motor Vehicle Record checks on the driver’s violation history and then reprimand and/or fire the belligerent drivers
  • The trucking company can set up a reward system to compensate good drivers and punish the drivers who fail to comply with safety systems
  • The trucking company can provide annual reviews which alter the pay rate for good and bad drivers
  • The trucking company can have dispatch monitor the distance between two points which allows for the tracking of the driver’s speed since a known speed will generally reach a known destination in a mean time or average time that can be calculated out with systems available to the dispatchers
  • The trucking company can stop requiring on-time deliveries
  • The trucking company can allow the drivers to be paid when they are over their legal hours while they stop to rest

Unrealistic Schedules CAUSE ACCIDENTS, INJURIES, DEATH AND MAYHEM

The trucking industry’s utilization of unrealistic time schedules to meet strict on-time deadlines is designed for the sole purpose of increasing profits of the motor carrier. The majority of the accidents, injuries, death and mayhem that we see every day on news stories across the nation are due to trucking companies causing their drivers to follow unrealistic on-time deadlines in order to increase company profit. These profit driven plans lead many motor carriers to ignore safety regulation in order to reach revenues in the levels of hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars of gross revenue for the larger trucking companies. Every reduction or failure to adhere to safety regulations results in an equal increase dollar for dollar in net profit and revenue. This philosophy of doing business leads one to the sole conclusion that trucking companies are more concerned about making a buck and getting higher levels of net profit than with safety and decreasing injuries and deaths caused by truckers who do not follow the safety regulations.

The commercial transport business is a unique industry. This industry appears to make concerted willful and intention steps to concoct scheme to avoid following the FMCSR. The airline industry must follow the FAA safety regulations to prevent mass injury and death to the public. In recent times, there have been many airline disasters. Almost all of these airline disasters are preventable by following the FAA safety regulations. Apparently, there is more enforcement of the airline industry, then the trucking industry. This is thought to be based upon the understanding that a truck accident may only kill one or two people at a time while an airline crash may cause one hundred to three hundred deaths or more from one incident. Taking the view that every life is important, the regulation of both industries is equally important. Regulation must be strictly enforced in order to give the FMCSR any true validity.

Increasing demand for products and deliveries makes the commercial transport business face increasing demands that are growing much too rapidly. As the economy improves these demands increase. As transportation increases, safety concerns rise. As safety concerns rise the need for more regulation, monitoring, training and supervision of the trucking industry becomes necessary.

The trucking industry, for the most part, is an industry that has 24 hour transportation 7 days a week. This type of system is known to create fatigue on the worker bees or drivers. The leaders of the top of the trucking companies are working to make as much gross profit with a correlating higher net profit as possible. This requires the drivers to exceed human capabilities and the maximum hours rules. The drivers face extreme turnaround pressure from dropping off a load to picking up the next load. This pressure creates driver breakdown and fatigue which leads to accidents and death.

Unrealistic time schedules with short deadlines breed contempt by the drivers for the motor carriers and for the compliance with the FMCSR. The drivers are placed into a situation where the driver must violate the law in order to meet the time deadlines and to feed his/her family. This is a Catch-22 situation which has existed for a long period of time and is now becoming more and routine. The strain on drivers to meet productivity requirements is unrealistic. The companies do not hire more drivers because they save money by overworking their existing drivers. When a driver is only supposed to be working a limited number of hours during the week is forced to exceed the maximum hours by 30 or 40 hours a week a known result occurs. That known result is that truck accidents happen and people die.

As the schedules are increased while the drivers are kept at a minimum, the existing drivers become tired and fatigued. Some of them are forced to work multiple shifts at nighttime and with varying schedules which affect their ability to get rest because of the alteration of circadian rhythms. The truck drivers become tired and reckless.

Investigation of trucking accidents, and the motor carriers is an ongoing problem for the FMCSA that is a long-standing problem within the surveillance of the motor carrier industry. The economics of the present day situation are that federal and state funding has been cut. This prevents appropriate investigations from occurring. Motor carriers learn that they can allow the drivers to carry 2 sets of books and then immediately destroy the 2nd set of false logs after an accident. Motor carriers buy software systems to scan in the drivers logs, which allows the logs to be destroyed at 6 months following an accident. This prevents appropriate investigation of the speeding habits and unrealistic time schedules of the driver in the 14 day period prior and on the day of the accident. This period is viewed because it allows the lawyer, or law enforcement or other administrative agency person to determine if the drive was speeding or violating the maximum hours of service rules to meet the delivery deadline set by the motor carrier. Enforcement and compliance necessary to meet the strict requirements of the FMCSR is an ideal that has not been met.

When investigating the accident multiple causes may be at play. Those multiple contributing causes to an accident need to be viewed by an experienced law enforcement officer or compliance officer with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or one of the state Highway Patrol agencies to investigate all potential causes to the accident, so that the accidents can be determined to be a preventable or non-preventable accident.

Trucking companies immediately bring in knowledgeable investigators to come from the insurance industry that are trained to shift the cause to the passenger car, the roadway that is poorly maintained or to any other cause other than the driver and the motor carrier. Many of these long time knowledgeable insurance company investigators know how to shift facts to make it appear that the trucking company and its driver are not at fault when the opposite is true. These investigators are usually on the scene within 2 hours or less from the accident. Evidence at the scene can be moved. Evidence at the scene can be created. Photos can be taken from an altered view to make it look different from the reality of the situation. All of these reasons lead to helping the truck driver and the trucking company get off without real punishment.

Bad truck drivers and bad truck companies cause injuries to real people every day. Truck drivers realize that insurance companies will immediately come to their aid. The truck drivers know that evidence can be destroyed rapidly. When evidence is moved or picked up at the scene before law enforcement arrives, the evidence is destroyed, and determination of whether or not the truck driver was speeding or doing some other negligent act becomes much more difficult to learn and prove. The trucking company has money on their side to help defend each and every accident. The victim of the motor vehicle accident with the large trucking company is at a disadvantage. The longer the victim takes to hire a knowledgeable lawyer, the more evidence can be lost or become dissipated. Much evidence is lost within a few hours or days of the actual accident.

As the transportation industry increases, the number of trucks and drivers on the roadways increases. In turn, the need for compliance increases with each and every new truck or Transportation company that takes to the nation’s highways. The FMCSA and State highway departments enforcing the regulations need to also review the given deadlines that were provided to the truck driver for the last 14 days of their driving time to determine whether or not they are driving too fast and violating the maximum hours-of-service rules, thereby leading to the root cause of the accident. Pushing truck drivers to drive fast is the root cause of trucking accident. Pushing truck drivers to meet time deadlines that are short is the secondary cause to truck driving accidents. The third major cause of trucking accidents is the failure of the truck driver and trucking company to comply with the maximum hours-of-service rules. These three factors combined likely make up the majority of reasons why trucking accidents occur. They occur due to speed of the truck drivers combined with the motor carrier forcing the truck driver to violate the maximum hours-of-service rules limits in order to meet the on-time deadline for delivery to increase the bottom line profit of the trucking company.

THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (FMCSA)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is an organization that deals with safety issues and critical issues related to the transportation industry and motor carriers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for governing the number of hours that truck drivers should be allowed to drive while on the job. These are called the maximum hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Constant strife exists between the transportation industry and the FMCSA because the FMCSA is the administrative arm of the DOT that regulates compliance with these rules. The motor carrier industry would just as soon self-police and have no authority to answer to. With that being said, if the FMCSA did not exist, the death, mayhem and carnage that would follow would grow exponentially.

Motor carriers must make a fitness application under Part 365.107 in order to make a finding that the trucking company or motor carrier is fit, willing and able to perform the involved operations and to comply with all applicable statutory and regulatory provisions. Under Part 365.109 the FMCSA must review the application of any prospective motor carrier. This allows them to review completed applications that conform with the FMCSA’s safety fitness policy. All applicants must file appropriate evidence of financial responsibility pursuant to 49 CFR Part 387 within 90 days from the date the notice of the application is published in the FMCSR register.

The rules are so strict that each motor carrier is required under Part 366.4 to have a designated service of process agent for all 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia unless its operating authority registration is limited to fewer than 48 states and the District of Columbia.

The rules create employer responsibilities. Under Part 380.305 (a) no motor carrier shall knowingly allow, require, permit or authorize a driver-instructor in its employ, or under contract to the motor carrier, to provide LCV driver training unless such person is a qualified LCV driver-instructor under the requirements of this subpart. Under Part 380.509 each employer must ensure each entry-level driver who first began operating a CMV requiring a CDL in interstate commerce after July 20, 2003 receives training required by Part 380.503. As noted in other parts of this book, the motor carrier must ensure that their drivers are trained in orientation, basic operation skills, safe operating practices, advanced operations and non-driving activities in order to help prevent injury and death on the roads.

The strife between the transportation industry and the FMCSA arises from compliance with these rules. In other words, the motor carrier industry can be audited by a roadside stop by a law-enforcement officer or by an agent of the FMCSA. The FMCSA can also audit the motor carrier independently by watching its safety statistics through the safersystem website. In the event of an accident, the FMCSA is supposed to be notified under certain circumstances, which automatically create an investigation of the accident. The motor carrier industry does not like being under this type of scrutiny.

The requirements for drivers on hours of service are defined under 49 CFR part 395 and continue through that entire chapter of regulatory requirements on the hours of service. The rules themselves are complicated. The rules address driving conditions, where there are adverse driving conditions as well as emergency conditions, and other types of similar situations.

Part 395.3 prescribes a maximum driving time for property carrying vehicles. That regulation requires that no motor carrier shall permit or require any driver used by it to drive a property carrying commercial motor vehicle, nor shall any such driver drive a property-carrying commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using the driver’s services, unless the driver complies with the following requirements. These requirements are strict and state that at the start of the work shift, the driver may not drive without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty in any 14 hour period.

A driver may drive only during a period of 14 consecutive hours after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours of being off duty. The driver may not drive after the end of the 14-consecutive-hour driving period without first taking 10 consecutive hours off duty.

The same rule prescribes that while driving, the driver must have certain rest breaks. It requires the driver may drive a total of 11 hours during the 14 hour period. After June 30, 2013 driving is not permitted if more than 8 hours have passed since the end of the driver’s last off-duty or sleeper-birth period of at least 30 minutes.

The motor carrier is not allowed to require or permit a driver of a property-curing motor commercial motor vehicle to drive, nor shall any driver drive a property-sharing commercial motor vehicle, regardless of the number of motor carriers using a driver’s services for any period having been on duty 60 hours in any period of 7 consecutive days. If the employing motor carrier does not operate commercial motor vehicles every day of the week. The alternative is where a driver has been on duty for 70 hours in any period of 8 consecutive days if the employing motor carrier operates commercial motor vehicles every day of the week.

The rules are so specific that when a driver takes more than one off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours within a period of 168 consecutive hours, he or she must indicate in the Remarks section of the record of duty status which such off-duty period is being used to restart the calculation of 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. The drivers must record the logs in the format required as prescribed in the FMCSR.

Under Part 395.13 the driver is declared out of service once the driver exceeds the maximum periods permitted by the rules. Part 395.13 states the responsibilities of motor carriers and requires that no motor carrier shall require or permit a driver that has been declared out of service to operate a commercial motor vehicle until the driver may lawfully do so under the rules in this part. It also requires that they may not require a driver who has been declared out of service for failure to prepare a record of duty status to operate a commercial motor vehicle until the driver has been off-duty for the appropriate number of consecutive hours required by this part, and in is in compliance with the section.

Under part 395.15 the motor carrier has an alternative method for logging the driver’s hours that can be used which is an automatic on-board recording device. The rule states that a motor carrier may require a driver to use an automatic on-board recording device and record the driver’s hours of service in lieu of complying with the requirements of Part 395.8.

The point of all of these rules are simply to ensure that the motor carrier and driver get sufficient rest and do not violate the maximum hours of driving per day or in any 7 or 8 day period depending on whether the carrier operates on a 7 day period or less than a full 7 day week.

The FMCSA allows drivers only a thirty minute break every eight hours. This 30 minute break is not enough rest for a driver who has to drive eight long hours. The FMCSA requires that every truck driver must take a ten hour consecutive break before reporting to duty. No truck driver is allowed to start a shift without being given ten consecutive off duty hours. Nevertheless, after the ten hour break the truck drivers are allowed to drive for 11 hours without a truly appropriate. For every person reading this book, think about how difficult it would be to drive every day of the week. Any normal person is going to be exhausted after an 11 hour drive. Many normal people have difficulty driving 3-4 hours without a break.

These rules stated in a more understandable format are:

  • Every truck driver must take a 30 minute break while driving for eight consecutive hours
  • No truck driver can start a shift without taking ten consecutive off duty hours
  • After the driver has availed his ten consecutive off duty hours he can drive for longer periods of time; the maximum of which is 11 hours.
  • Truck drivers can work for a maximum of 60 hours in seven days.
  • Truck drivers can work for a maximum of 70 hours in eight days. This has been decreased from the average week work load of 82 hours.
  • A truck driver cannot be allowed to drive after putting in 70 hours in seven days unless he has taken off 34 hours of rest after his 70 hour shifts.

These regulations expressly allow the drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMV) to operate at extended periods of time that would make any normal person exhausted. The fact that these hours have been extended is due to an experiment that has been conducted by the DOT and FMCSA at the request of the entire motor carrier industry that continues to press the government to allow it to push drivers harder and further. It is not much different than some military regimes who have developed amphetamines and other medications to push soldiers to the end of human capacity. The rules, as they presently exist, are absurd. Drivers are forced to drive in a fatigued and exhausted state.

THE EFFECT OF UNREALISTIC TRUCK SCHEDULES ON THE DRIVERS AND THE EQUIPMENT THEY USE

Now that we understand that the truck drivers are pushed beyond human limits due to unrealistic schedules and on-time deadlines, it becomes easy to understand that they cause accidents on the roadways across the United States. These truck drivers never get enough sleep or rest. Once they become fatigued and continue to drive, then their concentration level is reduced. Once their concentration level reduces then obviously their ability to have quick perception and reaction times in order to use defensive driving techniques is minimized or nullified in their entirety. Many trucking experts and lawyers who handle truck accident litigation understand that these rules do not promote safety. These rules simply try to make the trucking industry happy by pushing the drivers to maximum capacity of human endurance. The entire system is faulty. The government helps the trucking industry make the system faulty and, in turn, the loss of human lives occurs every day and year due to the continuation of a flawed system.

Driving for long uninterrupted periods of time can cause increased mechanical damage to the trucks. Overuse of the vehicle and speeding on the road can cause substantial need for repairs that are not attended to. The longer the truck drives the more stress is caused on the parts of the tractor trailer. This damage is not only to large trucks, it can be to any type of larger vehicle, including:

  • Semi-trucks
  • Construction trucks
  • Commercial trucks
  • Delivery trucks

Regardless of the type of truck, overuse without repair leads to the problems mentioned below:

  • Overheating of the vehicle which can cause permanent damage to it
  • Worn tires that blow-out on the highway after being driven too far without replacement
  • Worn brakes that do not all the tractor-trailer to stop as designed
  • Trailers can disengage from the tractors due to weak links that break down
  • Loss of oil, transmission and hydraulic fluid can cause the vehicle to break down at night in the middle of a busy highway
  • Underinflation and overinflation of unchecked tires leads to the semi veering back and forth on rough roads as well as to tire blow-outs

Long hours coupled with long distance cause death and injury. The farther a driver is pushed to drive without having adequate rest means that the same driver will not take the necessary time to do routine daily and random maintenance checks of the mechanics of the tractor-trailer. Warning systems on the vehicles can have a fault and often do. This is why the drivers need to take rest periods to stop and inspect their vehicles as required to ensure that the vehicles may travel safely across the nation’s highways.

Many independent truck drivers push themselves beyond limits and do not do routine maintenance because it costs money in order to stop and repair or inspect the vehicles and the trailers. These rest breaks and inspections ultimately reduce the net profit of the driver each and every time they stop to rest or inspect the vehicle.

Pushing the drivers to driver farther and longer makes the truck drivers irritated and fatigued. The farther they are pushed, the more irritated they can be. The more irritated and fatigued they are, the more likely they are to cause an accident.

Truck drivers become more dangerous when they have to comply with unrealistic time schedules that push them past the normal level of human endurance into a state of exhaustion and fatigue. The truck driver knows that if they do not comply with the on-time demand of the motor carrier they are transporting for, they will likely be demoted, reprimanded, lose pay or be fired. There are no good outcomes for the normal truck driver other than to drive as many hours as humanly possible to make as much money as humanly possible to meet the requirements of the error motor carrier deadlines.

Many truck drivers fail to take the rest periods they are required to take. They show that they are off-duty when they are really on-duty. They show that they are asleep in the sleeper berth when they really up awake at a truck stop. Many truck drivers will continue to drive and simply log time off as if they have stopped. This is where accidents happen, because the driver pushes themselves to an unrealistic point of exhaustion simply to make the deadline for the following morning.

According to a study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and National Transportation Safety Board, at least 30 % to 40 % of semi-truck accidents occur due to driver fatigue. This is a very concerning figure. These statistics are alarming. The more tired and fatigued the driver becomes, the more likely the chance of an accident occurring becomes a reality.

Many post-accident investigations by State Highway Patrol agencies and by the FMCSA establish an after-the-fact finding that the driver was driving in excess of their maximum hours. Many investigations lead to a finding that the driver keeps 2 sets of books. Many of these investigations show the drivers are using amphetamines and other drugs in order to stay awake. Many drivers will admit that they were over time and simply were over time because they had a delivery that they must make. When asked, the honest truck driver will state they that they had no choice, but to continue to drive in order to meet the on-time deadline.

Ultimately, the system is flawed. The trucking companies push their drivers beyond normal limits of human endurance. The FMCSA allows the trucking companies to increase the number of hours that their drivers drive in order to reach mutual goals due to complaints by lobbyists. No one on either side of the fence is happy about the rules. At best, the present rules and system are broken down and are in need of completely being revamped.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving by truck drivers is from being untrained, combined with being pushed to drive long driving hours to meet on-time deadlines. Many truck drivers are tired and simply sign a sheet that states that they understand the federal motor carrier safety regulations and the handbook. No real training occurs and smaller companies use drivers by hiring them with immediate placement on the roads without any orientation or safety training of any kind. The fact that truck drivers have massive large vehicles that are dangerous instrumentalities of death leads to a conclusion that it seems highly important to train the truck driver with at least a 3 to 4 day orientation process to help the truck driver understand the normal rules that are taught by the Smith system and JJ Keller defensive driving systems with videotapes, classroom training, and other training devices followed by comprehensive testing.

Driving large trucks requires expertise and training. The driver must be supervised on a regular basis and should be retrained often and tested often. When a driver is given a random driving test, the motor carrier can then determine whether or not that driver should be on the road or needs further training. Unfortunately, as noted in previous statements, this costs money and many trucking companies do not to spend the financial amounts associated with good training.

The motor carrier can check the motor vehicle record of the driver every 6 months and find out whether or not that driver is in compliance with state laws, ordinances and State statutes regarding the operation of commercial motor vehicles. When trucking companies ignore performing those checks they allow those drivers to continue driving in a reckless state.

Much literature can be found on reckless truck drivers performing any Google search or Internet search. The FMCSR regulations and the studies following those regulations lead to hundreds of articles investigating why truck drivers have accidents. There are many reasons why truck drivers have accidents from reckless driving. A few of those reasons are shown below:

  • Driving while fatigued and over hours
  • Speeding in an unsafe area with congested traffic
  • Following other motorists that are slowing and tailgating
  • Failing to maintain their vehicle in an appropriate lane of travel due to fatigue
  • Driving while fatigued after taking methamphetamines and other stimulants to stay away to meet deadlines
  • Passing in no passing zones and areas where it is too dangerous to pass
  • Drinking alcohol and driving while intoxicated
  • Failing to stop or yield for red lights, yellow lights, stop signs and yield signs
  • Talking on the phone while driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Looking at message delivery instructions from their supervisors while driving
  • Reviewing literature and maps rather than keeping a proper lookout for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians in their view
  • Eating food while driving which causes them to be distracted

The solution for reckless driving is simple and obvious. Here are a few ways in which reckless driving can be effectively reduced and/or eliminated. Some methods are:

  • Use of week-long safety orientation training
  • Using comprehensive testing of drivers after each training period
  • Using road tests and random road tests every six months
  • Doing random month alcohol and drug tests
  • Purchasing satellite tracking systems to eliminate the driver’s ability to exceed hours of driving maximum times
  • Having retraining programs in place for each accident a driver has, no matter how small
  • Educating drivers regarding the hazards of reckless driving
  • Utilization of a disciplinary process that uses the Rule of 3 strikes and you are out.
  • Creation of driver program that rewards good drivers.

Paper Logbooks Are Falsified

Falsification of logs by truck drivers is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. Lawyers who represent truck drivers in Worker’s Compensation cases are able to ask their truck driver clients truthfully whether they actually use two sets of books. One would be surprised to find how many truck drivers will tell the truth and admit that they routinely drive 100 to 120 hours per week and used two sets of books. One set is for their true miles and the other set is for the police, law enforcement and highway patrol officers who stop them in roadside audits.

It takes a great amount of fraud for the truck driver to keep the two sets of books. A motor carrier can eliminate this by using an on-board computer systems and/or satellite tracking systems which actually record the location of the tractor-trailer at any given moment in time. Software systems are then able to determine that the truck driver is over the allowable hours. This type of safety system is not always used because it proves that the truck drivers are over hours. When an accident occurs, the satellite system can often lead to a huge damage verdict against the motor carrier. Some motor carriers look at the satellite systems as a means of causing them increased damages in the event of accidents by their drivers, so they choose intentionally not to use them.

Drivers are inventive and can think of hundreds of ways to falsify logs. Drivers can simply write down the wrong time for each event on a log. The driver can write that they are off duty when they are on duty. They can write that they are sleeping when they are not sleeping and are driving. When they are doing actual work such as loading and unloading at a shipment point they can record this as off duty time when it is legally required to be reported as on duty time. Clever drivers can think of clever ways to defraud the law enforcement professionals, and the FMCSA. Unfortunately, many of these logbooks are never found until the drivers have an accident after being on the road for too long.

It is quite easy for a driver to fake the fact of whether or not they actually were off work for 10 hours. They can fake the time frame for the 34 hour consecutive break which is required. Truck drivers can falsify almost any event that they perform by simply writing down the opposite of the truth. Many truck drivers do not think that the law is fair. They believe that the law infringes on their right to make a fair living. At any truck stop, you can ask truck drivers the truth about their driving habits. It would be easy to find many truck drivers who admit to using sets of double books simply to make a living and feed their families. That is their justification for keeping the two sets of log books. The second justification is the requirement by the motor carriers that they make on-time deliveries and keep stringent deadlines which are impossible to do, under the maximum hours of service rules.

A report by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) stated that driver fatigue is one of the major contributing factors in traffic accidents. This fatigue was recorded as the principle factor behind 104 crashes, 16 serious injuries and 18 fatalities in the years between 2009 and 2013.

Most truck drivers are asked to record:

The time that they spend on duty doing their job

The time they spend off duty after doing their job

The time they spend sleeping while off the job

The time they spend driving out on the road

The time they spend performing work activities like loading and unloading which is required on duty time

The time they spend taking rest periods and days off duty

Truck drivers are routinely required to send in their logs at the end of every 7 days. In order to receive their pay, the written logs are typically in a duplicate or triplicate set so that the truck driver has their own copy. The trucking company should get a copy. In post-accident depositions of truck drivers, it is surprising to determine how many of them do not keep a copy of their actual logs. The trucking companies take the original logs and scan them into software systems. Most of the software systems are automatically programmed to destroy them 6 months after the date of the accident. Since the originals are destroyed the lawyers who try to find the actual logs and wait more than 6 months to file suit or fail to send out spoliation letters to preserve evidence quickly learn that they have lost the most critical evidence for a case. The original logs are the real logs. They prove what really happened.

Many trucking experts will take the actual logs and then track them with bills of lading, fuel receipts and invoices, turnpike toll receipts, weighing station receipts and other documents that are maintained by the driver and motor carrier to actually reconstruct the roads and miles driven. It is quite surprising to find how many times the different documents do not correlate with one another. When the correlation between documents does not appear accurate, then the lawyer knows that the driver was falsifying logs and lying about their true miles and hours. Many severe truck accidents are due to truck drivers that lie about their miles driven and their hours of service.

One has to remember that truck drivers who are paid by the mile or by the weight have more incentive to falsify logs. The further they drive, the more money they make. The heavier the load is, the more money they make. These incentives to truck drivers by motor carriers are intentionally created to move more shipments and product across the roads at a cheaper cost to the motor carrier and shipper. The truck driver is simply the means to the ends.

Legislators continue to introduce legislation that mandates that paperless logs be discontinued. The discontinuance of paper logs is something that should be mandated for each and every truck driver in the United States. Regardless of the cost of electronic on-board recorders, also known as EOBR’s, their use should be mandatory, with no exception.

ELECTRONIC LOGBOOKS

Truck drivers have been using paper logs since as early as the 1930s. They have always been required to document their starting time, there rest periods and their sleep time, as well as are off duty time. In the 1990s a new technology was brought into use, which helped to start to eliminate paper logs. One of the companies that developed these electronic logbooks is called Werner Enterprises. The company developed a paperless logbook which worked with the help of a GPS system. Werner Enterprises worked with in conjunction with the DOT to develop these electronic paperless logs. The company invented a paperless logbook and helped for the first time to eliminate driver falsification of logs. Since that time. Many other companies have developed systems to compete with paperless logs. QUALCOMM is one of the well-known companies that many major trucking companies use. Companies that use QUALCOMM and similar satellite tracking systems which allow them to know the exact place and location of each and every driver and tractor are companies that are at least trying to utilize a safer system to protect the motor pump public.

These electronic and satellite systems help to eliminate driver ability to falsify logs. These same systems allow the motor carrier to provide safer drivers who are not running over time. The margin of human error becomes minimized. The ability of the truck driver to intentionally and fraudulently falsify their logs becomes minimized. Truck drivers still can figure ways to get around electronic logs. The inventiveness of human kind can never be underestimated. There is and always will be a need for better and safer tracking systems.

The creation and the invention of electronic logbooks with satellite systems as a replacement of paper logbooks is a much safer methodology for tracking drivers’ hours of service. It helps protect lives. Electronic logbooks help eliminate driver fatigue.

As advancements in technology continue to grow, electronic logbooks will continue growing with usage in the motor carrier industry. The motor carrier industry. That does not want to follow the rules will continue to try to use paper logbooks as long as possible. Falsifying logbooks is much easier when it is a paper logbook system. The computerization of the logbooks by satellite tracking and software systems, as previously stated, helps eliminate the falsification of log books by truck drivers and their employers, the trucking companies who supervise and train them.

Truckload Carriers Association found at www.truckload.org and FleetOwner found at FleetOwner.com evaluated different types of electronic log software in a Webinar in August of 2014. The presentation advocated the use of electronic logbooks because they are durable, convenient and help prevent falsification.

This type of recording of logs will effectively help motor carriers to have benefits associated with safety. Some of these benefits are:

They promote greater fuel efficiency for the entire fleet of trucks

Safety and compliance issues can be management in a much easier fashion

Electronic logs promote compliance with the FMCSR maximum hours-of-service regulations

Fleet productivity is improved

Net operating revenues are improved

CSA compliance with the seven basic rules of CSA is made easier

Trip reports and fuel reports are managed in a much easier fashion

Motor carriers can look for and evaluate red flag critical events much easier

The time that they spend on duty doing their job

The software allows real time evaluation of critical factors in everyday fleet management

Logbooks are managed and maintained in a much more usable format

Beginner drivers can be monitored for errors in order to better train the drivers

Helps with logbook violations and tracks bad drivers

These systems help to reduce hours of service violations at an amazing rate of approximately a 63% reduction in violations while simultaneously reducing the driver out-of-service rates by 74%. On-time delivery becomes easier. Customers are happier and profits increase.

Truck Drivers and Bad Weather – A Deadly Combination

Truck drivers that drive in bad weather are completely disregarding safety thought processes and the FMCSR. Rain, snow, mist, ice, and other weather factors like, high winds create deadly situations that cannot always be safe to driving. The intelligent truck driver will recognize and anticipate ahead of time that the truck, speed, should be reduced and/or that the truck should be completely taken out of service and discontinued until better weather appears. Unfortunately, many truck drivers fail to heed the rules of the FMCSR regarding the need for discontinuance of service.

Hazardous conditions require extreme caution. Under part 392.14 of the FMCSR, it requires that extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or, smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. This rule is often misunderstood. It means that the truck and drive shall discontinue operation of the tractor-trailer in bad and extreme conditions and not resume until the conditions have dissipated. It is one of the least followed rules in the FMCSR.

Any time bad weather exists, it is presumed that the roads will become slippery and dangerous. Common sense tells all drivers of roads that misty and icy roads can be extremely dangerous. Commercial motor vehicles need to be more aware of this rule because of the mass and size of the tractor-trailer. The force of the trailer increases as it loses control, and starts to slip and slide across bad roads. A slippery surface can cause a tractor-trailer to turn to a 90° angle where it can take out multiples of passenger cars at one time causing extreme death and destruction. Once the tractor and trailer start into a spin or loss of control, the truck driver is unable to control the vehicle and is completely unable to prevent an accident. At that moment, the heavier the load, the worse the situation will be. Most truck drivers fail to take into consideration the weight of their load and when they fail to do so, they are likely to cause misery and death.

The normal truck driver or operator has a larger duty to control the tractor-trailer because of this particular’s regulation. It does not give the driver very much discretion. This regulation generally requires the driver to heed the regulation by reducing speed and when bad enough, the driver must cease operations. Whenever bad weather is present and a truck driver has been involved in the accident it is likely the truck drivers’ fault for not ceasing and discontinuing operation of the tractor-trailer. The driver could simply pull over to the side of the road and put lights on or find a side road to pull off on. Drivers can look for truck stops and other parking lot areas where the truck can safely wait for the storm to pass.

In windy states like Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, and other states with high wind levels, news stories routinely show the public tractor-trailers who have been overturned by high winds. Many of these tractor-trailers end up smashing into motorists by being too close to them. Discontinuation of service until the high winds are reduced would prevent the tractor-trailer from overturning. The driver does not want to stop because of the fact that he will lose compensation and may likely be reprimanded or fired for stopping.

An inherent problem with bad weather is maneuvering the long tractor-trailer through the highways without having it veer back and forth across the roadway. Slippery surfaces and extreme wind can cause the vehicle to fail to stay in its own lane of travel. The truck is forced into vehicles that are near its sides or at worst, into oncoming traffic traveling from the opposite direction. Once a tractor-trailer loses control, the motorist near that tractor-trailer needs to stay as far away from the tractor-trailer as possible until it stops its forward or sideward forceful movement. This is one of the reasons why operators of cars should stay as far away from tractor-trailers as possible.

Untrained and overconfident truck drivers make many poor decisions during storm conditions. Those storm conditions cause the truck driver to make fatal errors in judgment. Truck drivers should be wary of driving in bad weather conditions. Truck drivers have an obligation to follow this regulation and reduce speed. There are many errors that truck drivers make in bad weather conditions that lead to fatal accidents. Some are:

  • Failing to discontinue operation and pull off of the traveled roadway
  • Failing to operate at a reduced speed for the wet, windy and low visibility conditions
  • Continuing to operate in foggy conditions of almost zero visibility
  • Driving on snow and black ice that has not been treated
  • Operating too fast for unknown road conditions
  • Operating at a speed that will lose traction and cause the vehicle to go into a skid or slide
  • Driving without appropriate lights in low visibility nighttime conditions
  • Driving in high wind conditions that cause the trailer to catch the wind and make the tractor-trailer overturn
  • Driving too fast in icy and snowy conditions too close behind slower traffic in front of the driver
  • Losing control of the tractor-trailer by losing traction and fishtailing
  • Failing to anticipate that additional braking time is necessary
  • Failing to anticipate that additional perception and reaction time is necessary due to the inability to stop quickly

Motor carriers must use classroom, videotape and teacher orientation training to train truck drivers about this particular regulation and the fact that the tractor-trailer will have poor handling characteristics in bad weather conditions. The truck driver needs to be taught that the driver’s perception and reaction time are adversely affected in bad weather conditions. The truck driver must learn that braking is much more difficult in bad weather conditions, especially with a heavy load. The truck driver needs to understand how a tractor-trailer can lose traction and then do a sideways fishtail across the highway or skid off of the highway entirely. Only appropriate training and supervision will eliminate truck drivers who ignore this mandatory regulation about extreme weather conditions.

SAFETY TIPS FOR DRIVING IN BAD CONDITIONS

All professional truck drivers need safety training. Truck drivers need a much higher level of safety training for bad weather driving conditions. Some safety tips for truck drivers to follow are:

  • Drive at a reduced speed every time weather conditions are poor
  • Always give additional distance between the truck and surrounding vehicles to the sides and in front
  • Realize that your tractor-trailer is a dangerous instrumentality and can cause misery, injury, death and catastrophe
  • Never travel at the legal speed limit, always driver slower in bad conditions
  • When conditions are bad enough, cease and discontinue operation
  • Realize that dangerous flat lands have high winds which can cause your tractor-trailer to drive across your lane of travel or off the roadway
  • Break in a more careful manner when bad conditions exist
  • Increase your perception and reaction time by driving slower and keeping your eyes on the road
  • Anticipate hazards that are going to exist in bad weather conditions
  • Perform all pretrip inspections on a daily basis and always check the tires inflation and tread
  • Keep a chart and map available for truck stops, parking lots and places to pull off when weather is bad enough that you should discontinue service
  • Reduce speed over icy bridges and roads that are not directly on the ground
  • Realize you can fishtail and learn how to steer to avoid fishtailing
  • Follow the Smith System and other systems of defensive driving at all times
  • Pay attention to congested traffic areas where accidents are more likely to occur
  • Stay in your lane of travel and if the weather conditions are so bad that this is impossible, pull off in a safe place with placement of warning lights, cones and triangles at a safe distance
  • Watch for black ice and be careful to check with other truckers about the next stretch of roadway to learn what is ahead


Bibliography

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