Roadside inspections are conducted to ensure that commercial trucks and truck drivers are complying with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and Hazardous Materials Regulations. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, roadside inspectors are facing undue burdens in performing their duties. The CVSA wrote a letter to the FMCSA about concerns that the number of exemptions handed out to drivers and trucking companies is complicating the roadside inspection process.
The trucking industry must comply with a multitude of complex rules and regulations to ensure safety on our nation's roads. Recently, the Obama administration announced a proposal that would refine existing safety programs, as well as introduce new initiatives.
Keeping hours-of-service records is a primary safety requirement for truck drivers and trucking companies. Truck drivers are required to log their hours and take rest breaks to avoid fatigue, which too often is a contributing factor in serious truck accidents.
A Chicago-area trucker is facing four felony charges for behavior leading up to a deadly wreck on I-88. The semi-truck accident occurred two weeks ago and claimed the life of a toll-way worker. It also left an Illinois State Trooper with critical injuries. As a result of his actions, the truck driver has been labeled an "imminent hazard to public safety" by the U.S. Department of Transportation. He has been ordered to stop operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Highway-rail grade crossings are intersections where roads cross railroad tracks on the same level or grade. These intersections are the site of more than 3,000 accidents every year, including roughly 700 semi truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a new initiative designed to help truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators avoid these terrible accidents. If every commercial driver followed the precautions laid out by the FMCSA, there would be far fewer accidents and fewer fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings.
Sleep apnea is a health condition that prevents its sufferers from getting sufficient restful sleep. When it strikes a truck driver, sleep apnea can make it difficult to get enough sleep to keep up with a typical commercial trucking schedule. The result can be an increase in truck accidents caused by drowsy driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has therefore decided to recommend stricter standards for commercial carriers in identifying and addressing the problem of sleep apnea. The FMCSA is concerned that the current efforts to evaluate and treat drivers for sleep apnea are insufficient.
According to the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA), undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can significantly increase a driver's potential to be involved in serious automobile crashes. The National Institute on Health's Heart, Lung and Blood Institute describes sleep apnea as a condition that causes a person to experience periodic pauses between breaths or very shallow breathing during sleep. The breathing pauses can last from seconds to minutes, and can occur anywhere from 5 to 30 times an hour. For chronic sufferers, the episodes appear 3 or more nights a week, moving the person constantly from deep to light sleep.
At this year's Sleep Apnea and Trucking Conference, held on May 11-12 in Baltimore, Don Osterberg, vice president of safety and driver training for Green Bay, Wisconsin-based trucking company Schneider National, was presented with the first-ever Distinguished Safety Leadership award, which was created by the Truck Safety Coalition. Osterberg's receipt of the award was an unexpected moment for two reasons, namely because of his company's history of involvement in fatal trucking crashes, and also because of who presented Osterberg with the award itself: the daughter that William Badger was on his way to meet when he was killed in a crash involving one of Osterberg's semi-trucks.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it was implementing a new rule that, according to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, is aimed at "cracking down on carriers and drivers who put people on our roads and highways at risk" by violating federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.
The company involved in the fatal, March 5 bus crash outside of Phoenix, Arizona had been denied passenger carrier operating authority in April, 2009, but continued to operate anyways, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Pursuant to an emergency request by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Tierra Santa, Inc., was ordered on March 6 by the United States District Court for the Central District of California to cease all passenger carrier services-even though the company's application to conduct such services had been officially denied by the USDOT on December 14, 2009. According to the FMCSA complaint, Tierra Santa's owner, Cayetano Martinez, operated other entities that had previously been shut down, yet attempted to "reincarnate himself as a new carrier" only to be denied authorization once more in December, 2009. The complaint further states that "Martinez has shown a persistency and determination to continue operating under new entities and businesses," a pattern that is "without authority and without regard for the safety of its passengers" according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.