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Teamsters use power play to keep new Hours of Service restrictions against truck drivers in place.

July 31st, 2013 marked the first sign of hope for truck drivers in America in a long time, the hope was that they had finally found a champion in the likes of Rep Richard Hanna (R-NY) to help fight for their best interest within the walls of the federal government machine in Washington D.C.

Rep. Hanna was going to propose an amendment to pull the funding for the latest Hours of Service (HOS) regulations based on the grounds that the new regulations were put in place based on pure speculation by Anne Ferro and the FMCSA. The new regulations put a further strain on truck drivers and their ability to operate safely on Americas highways and also limit their income substantially. The effect of removing the funding for the regulations would force the FMCSA to revert back to using the regulations that were already in place prior to July 1st, 2013. Surprisingly the amendment never made it to the congressional floor due to the fact that the Teamsters and their posse of consumer health and safety groups and truck crash “victims” fired off an email to members of congress telling them not to support Rep Hanna’s proposal. It just so happens that we have a copy of that email authored by Mr. Fred McLuckie so let’s take a look shall we? I will post the email in its entirety with my responses to its claims represented in italic form.

CONSUMER, HEALTH & SAFETY GROUPS, THE TEAMSTERS AND TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS URGE YOU TO OPPOSE AMENDMENTS OFFERED BY

REP. HANNA (R-NY), REP. RICE (R-SC) AND ANY OTHERS ON H.R. 2610, THUD APPROPRIATIONS BILL THAT WOULD PROHIBIT DOT FUNDING

FOR ENFORCEMENT OF HOURS OF SERVICE (HOS) RULES THAT TOOK EFFECT 7/1/13

•Decades of compelling and convincing research has shown the dangers of fatigued commercial drivers. Operator fatigue and sleep deprivation are serious safety problems in all modes of transportation. Unsafe freight and passenger transportation practices of long duty and driving hours, shift rotation and inadequate sleep have been recognized by research conducted by government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Highway Administration(FHWA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

“Really?, the “research” hasn’t even been completed yet. The only research that the FMCSA has in their hands is “research” done on driving simulators which they in turn derive a “theory” from and then decided to implement new regulations based on that theory!”

• On July 1st, the FMCSA implemented a new hours of service (HOS) rule to address driver fatigue. While the rule falls short of making all of the improvements for safety that are needed to reduce the annual toll of truck-involved crash deaths and injuries, it does include some measures to improve safety and should be enforced.
“The Teamster led coalition fails to divulge the fact that over 70% of all truck/commuter vehicle crashes are caused by the commuter vehicle and not the truck driver or his/her equipment.”

o Congress should not pre-empt public participation and agency involvement and research in a complex regulatory issue by countermanding safety rules.
“How do you countermand safety rules that are based on speculation and theory?”

o Congress should not oppose public health and safety regulations in order to favor special interests.
“Excuse me Mr. McLuckie, isn’t the Teamsters organization a special interest group?”

o Even with the rule changes, truck drivers can still average 70 hours of driving and work each week and can drive and work 80 hours in any given week.

“Well considering that professional drivers are only allowed 70 hours of driving time and on duty time COMBINED in a week your statement leaves a little to be desired in the way of reality.”

o The once-a-week limit on the use of the 34-hour restart still allows truckers to average 70 hours of on-duty time every week and does not restrict the use of the shortened restart rest period on a regular basis by most long-haul drivers.

“There is no other way to say this than to say the the above statement is false, numerous drivers have already reported several instances of of getting less sleep and having their sleep patterns completely disrupted resulting in more tired drivers on the road.”

o The FMCSA estimates that the benefits of the rule (reduction in crashes and improved driver health) will outweigh the costs. The cost of the rule represents a small fraction of one percent of trucking industry revenues and is the cost equivalent of less than a 3 cent-a-gallon increase in the price of diesel fuel to the long-haul industry.

“So you are OK with the idea of the long haul operators to fund the expense of a blanket regulation for everyone, a regulation that that is based on theory and as you even stated yourself “estimates”. The fact that most of your members are local or line-haul operators wouldn’t have anything to to with your views on this now would they? I suppose the fact that even more long-haul freight will have to be divided up amongst LTL carriers, a large percentage of which the unions represent, I’m sure that never came into your mind now did it?”

· The amendments subvert public safety protections that are supported by scientific research and safety analyses.
•Scientific evidence shows that crash risk increases geometrically after the 8th consecutive hour of driving.

“Mr. McLuckie, do you even bother to check the facts? If you did you would know that Anne Ferro testified under oath that her office didn’t and to the best of anyone’s knowledge STILL doesn’t have the data back from the real world statistics. It was just three short years ago that the very same people making the “8th hour” claims stated their research indicated the largest percentage of crashes happen WITHIN THE FIRST 3 HOURS of starting a driving shift.”
HOS Chart - 8 hrs.-resized-600

This chart displays the distribution of DOT recordable collisions in 2009 for each of the 11 driving hours. The crash rate peaks during the first three hours. Courtesy of Jeremy Reymer.


o HOS rules protect truck drivers and Congress should not enact special interest provisions that withhold funding for their implementation or enforcement or provide industry exemptions. See recent New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/us/for-oil-workers-deadliest-danger-is-driving.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1
“Again with the special interest claims from a special interest organization.”

•Research with drivers and in other industrial sectors indicates that the risk of crashes falls substantially after a break, with off-duty breaks providing the greatest reduction in risk.
“Research actually showed that proper rest and driver flexibility to take breaks helped to maintain a higher level of alertness.”

•Truck crashes are a serious and deadly problem and fatigue is a major factor. Each year on average, 4,000 people are needlessly killed nationally in truck-involved crashes and 100,000 more are injured. In 2010, large truck crash fatalities increased by 9 percent and then increased again in 2011 despite an overall decline in motor vehicle deaths. The annual cost to society from crashes involving large trucks is estimated to be nearly $83 billion.
“With over 70% and in some states as high as 91% of truck related crashes being caused by commuter vehicles I have to ask Mr. McLuckie , his Teamsters organization and the safety advocates supporting him, at what point do commuter vehicles start taking their share of responsibility for the crashes and in that respect when do they take responsibility for their share of the $83 billion “cost to society”, why is the focus solely on truck driver?”

• Annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major airplane crash every other week of the year.
“Mr. McLuckie, how many SUV’s do you see cut off a 747 at 30,000 feet? How many Toyota’s lock up their brakes in front of an Airbus in midair? Your analogy is a stretch at the very best.”

• 98% of the fatalities in two vehicle crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles are the occupants of the smaller passenger vehicle.
“So with over 70% of the crashes being caused by the commuter vehicle, wouldn’t you agree that we should probably start focusing the efforts at educating the motoring public how to safely drive their vehicles around a commercial motor vehicle? Proper safety education could potentially reduce the number of fatalities to a number of less than 30% and if safety is the real concern here then can you honestly that the money being used for more regulations wouldn’t be better spent on education of drivers in commuter vehicles?”

• Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous professions – 635 truck drivers died in crashes in 2011.
“Wow, and to think that 444 of those drivers could possibly still be alive with proper safety education for Americas drivers.”

• Driver fatigue is a factor in at least 13% of large truck crashes, which means that of the total of 3,757 people killed and 88,000 people injured in large truck crashes in 2011, at least 490 people died and 11,420 were injured in crashes involving tired truckers.
“Well lets take a look at what major changes occurred considering the driver fatigue factor back in 2001 was only 2.6%  according to the FMCSA and the Large Truck Crash Causation Study. I can clue you in to what happened between 2001 and now…..Hours of Service regulation changes!”

• Commercial driver fatigue is jeopardizing safety on our roadways. According to a survey sponsored by FMCSA:
“If that truly is the case then why is the FMCSA asking drivers to perform their tasks during peak periods of the day and their driving shift for crash causation?”

• Nearly 48 percent of drivers admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving the previous year.
• About 45 percent of drivers said they sometimes or often had trouble staying awake while driving.
• 13 percent reported that they often or sometimes fell asleep while driving.
• 65 percent reported that they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving.
• A third of the drivers reported that they became fatigued on half or more of their trips.
• Lack of sufficient sleep from day-to-day and week-to-week results in cumulative sleep deprivation that can only be overcome through extended periods of off-duty time for rest and recovery.
• The prevalence of fatigue and sleep deprivation leading to truck and bus crashes is severely underreported and is usually not detectable by police and other crash investigators.
“I am going to reply to all of the above statements in one reply as they are all related to one another. Drivers become fatigued for one reason and one reason only, they work in the ONLY INDUSTRY in the country that is regulated by a government trying to tell them when to sleep and when not to sleep. There was already ample evidence provided to the FMCSA from numerous sleep studies that proved there were no two individuals who have the same sleep pattern or requirements. The FMCSA chose to ignore this evidence as it was dismissed by their own appointed medical expert even though several other medical experts disagreed with her.”
“The trucking industry is also the only industry where workers have to operate on a stop watch basis and try to fit in regular daily activities along with the work of the day. If a driver decides to pull over part way through a shift because they are feeling a bit fatigued they do not get that time back, they are in essence PENALIZED for stopping for a nap. Is this the kind of safety that you want to continue endorse?”

Truck Deaths are Increasing and Fatigue is a Major Factor in Crashes – Legislate to Improve the Safety of Truck Drivers and Motorists.

We urge you to OPPOSE any amendments that will cut off funding for critical safety regulations.

I have already spent a large chunk of my day dissecting this email that was sent to congress, I don’t think I even need to validate the last portion of it with a reply. What I will leave everyone with is that this wasn’t an issue of safety, it was an issue of the Teamsters making a play to take over more freight for its members to assure its survival in the future. This was a typical union tactic to bully lawmakers into giving into their interests with the impending threat of pulling campaign dollars and endorsements from their future political campaigns. I would also like to point out that I was once a Teamster myself in my younger days, the difference is that I was proud to be one because we had a brotherhood in my local, something the national governing body has lost touch with and replaced with an addiction to power and money.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Teamsters use power play to keep new Hours of Service restrictions against truck drivers in place.

  1. This whole email is stuck on the TIRED DRIVER! Not every accident or incident is caused by a tired driver. Yeah, some take their attention from the road for a minute but not because they are tired. I have been out there for 19 years and the accidents I have witnessed or passed by involving a passenger car you can clearly see that the car was at fault. Of course, the driver will be charged before then investigation is through.

    I agree with you on what the Teamsters are trying to do. It is clearly evident here! It seems that they are pushing the TIRED DRIVER angle to keep Hours of Service in place. I agree with you an all points. Reading articles like this really makes me mad and makes me want to look for other employment. Driving used to be fun, riding all over the place and meeting new people. But now, I feel that its not worth the headache anymore.

    The government is trying so hard to change the driver when they need to start teaching John Q public in high school how to drive around commercial vehicles. I taught my nieces and nephews long ago and still put little bugs in their ears from time to time. Soon they will only allow people with a certain weight, age, and height and be in perfect health to drive trucks and that will be sucky!!

    Posted by mjc1520 | August 1, 2013, 12:24 pm
    • Sorry my friend, I wasn’t trying to make other drivers angry….lol. I was hoping to awaken some of the drivers out there who think that the unions are the only way to stop this mess are in fact one of the big players in making it a mess.

      Posted by haggardon18 | August 1, 2013, 12:46 pm
      • You really can’t help from getting angry. So many rule changes is enough to anger a rock! Its just we can’t make a decent living out here and the government is playing with the rules! I’m beginning to hate trucking!!!

        Posted by mjc1520 | August 1, 2013, 6:54 pm

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