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Speed, Fatigue Impairment, Seat Belts Cited in Truck Fatality Spike

One-third of the 635 truck occupants who died in accidents during 2011 were not wearing a seat belt, according to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analysis. Speeding played a role in 22% of those deaths and 4% had some kind of impairment – most often fatigue related. FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in an interview last week that regulatory officials were “scratching their heads” over what might have caused the 20% spike in truck-occupant deaths during 2011 from the 530 in 2010. —Transport Topics 1/21/2013

President of American Trucking Associations Urges Expediting E-Logs

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves urged FMCSA to move forward with the rule, stating “The safety benefits of these devices should be plain: compliance with the hours-of-service rules leads to lower crash risk. … Electronic logs improve safety by making compliance with the rules easier, and further, I’d argue that fighting the use of this technology is an endorsement of providing drivers the opportunity to fudge on their logs. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is an endorsement of the cheating itself . . . not the biggest problem the industry has, but certainly one that exists. There are those who fear the mandating of electronic logs because it will take away what they feel is a competitive advantage – namely the ability to drive longer than is allowed and perhaps longer than is safe.”—Transport Topics 12/3/12

Two University Institutes Play Roles in Transportation Public Policy

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) is the chief repository for crash statistics that are the basis for measuring the effectiveness of federal and state highway safety enforcement activities. The Federal Motor Carrier Administration uses UMTRI’s data to compile information on roadside inspections and safety violations that are used to identify carriers that pose the greatest risk of crashes in the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. Another approach developed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute involves the study of personal driving behavior by using cameras and sensors in private vehicles. VTTI officials said the so-called naturalistic driving studies can provide new understanding of the causes of crashes.—Transport Topics 10/1/12

Texting Truck Drivers 23 Times More Likely to Crash

In 2009 an analysis by VTTI of data from 203 truck drivers showed that drivers who sent text messages while driving were 23.2 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-crash than if they were not texting while driving. That led to an executive order by the president of the United States to ban texting while driving for government workers – and in January 2010 the U.S. Department of Transportation extended the ban on texting while driving to commercial truck and bus drivers.  —Transport Topics 10/1/12

ATA Asks Court to Overturn Hours-of-Service 34-Hour  Restart Revisions

The rule, set to take effect in July 2013, would restrict how drivers could use the restart provision, which allows a driver to reset the weekly driving limit by not working for 34 hours. Under the changes, drivers can use the restart only once every seven days, and the period must include two spans from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. — an attempt by FMCSA to encourage nighttime sleep. —It also requires drivers to take a 30-minute break before driving more than eight hours, and rolls back an hours-of-service exemption for regional drivers by including them in the break requirement.—Transport Topics 7/30/12

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