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Archive for January, 2012


Commercial Truck Drivers are Safest on the Road

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Safe Roads

Safe Roads

Safety advocate groups continue to argue that commercial motor vehicle drivers contribute a major danger to road safety. Organizations and political leaders tend to bow to their suggestions in relationship to their own agendas.

The bashing of our professional truck drivers have become all too common and it is time to set the record straight, using factual statistics. is one of the largest voices condemning professional truck drivers and motor carriers concerning highway safety, often mentioning that fatigue is a “contributing factor in as many as 30-40% of all heavy truck crashes.”  The problem with this statement is that it is completely false.

Today, the truth is that commercial trucks are involved in 2.4% of all car accidents and more than 80% of those accidents are the fault of the non-commercial driver.  Furthermore, only 16% of all truck driving accidents are due to the truck driver’s fault and of those death related accidents, only 4% of trucks are fatigue related.  (Ref: Source 1).

In fact, Anne Ferro, Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has finally stated that “fatigue” is low on the list for the causes of truck accidents.  According to the FMCSA, truck driver fatigue was a factor in just 1.4% of all fatal truck accidents, this coming from the FMCSA’s own Analysis Division in their report:  “2009: Historic Truck Crash Declines.

Because safety groups are continually discussing the dangerous safety hazards of motor carriers and their truck drivers, it is important to provide actual statistics pertaining to truck crashes and fatality rates, as it compares to the record of auto drivers.

Motor Carrier Safety

The following is a list of 5 large motor carriers showing miles driven per year, reported crashes, number of fatalities resulting from those crashes (average) and the average number of crashes and fatalities per year, per 100,000 miles driven:  (Ref: Source 2).

1.  Schneider National

Miles per year: 1,152,688,659
Reported Crashes: 463
Fatalities: 16.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.401
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0014

2.  Crete Carrier

Miles per year:  524,000,000
Reported Crashes: 198.5
Fatalities: 7.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.037
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0014

3.  J.B. Hunt

Miles per year:  825,156,529
Reported Crashes: 332.5
Fatalities: 10.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.040
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0013

4.  Prime

Miles per year:  542,785,567
Reported Crashes: 253.5
Fatalities: 6.5
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.047
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0012

5.  Con-Way Freight  (2009 report)

Miles per year:  371,073,137
Reported Crashes: 141
Fatalities: 3
Accidents per 100,000 miles: 0.038
Fatalities per 100,000 miles:  .0008

When figuring a “Standard Frequency Rate“, 100,000 miles is the standard used.  When looking at accident and fatality rates between auto drivers and truck drivers, the number of average miles driven within a year must be counted into the equation.

A motorist who drives 100,000 miles a year has 20 times the accident exposure risk than a driver who logs 10,000 miles in a year. (Ref: Source 3).  The more miles spent behind the wheel, obviously will raise the accident/fatality factor.

Who would you consider to be the safest driver?  The auto driver with one accident in two years after 24,000 miles or the truck driver with two accidents in two years after 200,000 miles?

Auto Driver Safety Record

Now that we see that five major motor carriers and their professional truck drivers have an over-all accident average of .1126 per 100,000 miles driven and an over-all fatality average of .0012 per 100,000 miles driven . . . let us compare these rates with the non-commercial driver:

  • As of May 19th, 2010 — the fatality rate for auto drivers in the state of Arizona, was 2.1 per 100,000 miles driven.  (Ref: Source 4).

As further examples, for 2007, the last date for available data, the fatality rate for auto drivers, per 100,000 miles driven were:  (Ref: Source 5).

  • Massachusetts — 0.76
  • Rhode Island — 0.80
  • Pennsylvania — 1.37
  • Louisiana — 2.17
  • Montana — 2.45

We now have a comparison of five motor carriers and drivers with an average fatality rate, per 100,000 miles driven of .0012, compared to six states which show an average fatality rate per 100,000 miles driven by non-commercial drivers of 1.608, already a difference of 1.6068 more fatalities.

Crashes involving big trucks make for big news and although one life lost is a tragedy, safety groups and non-commercial drivers need to look at the true, hard facts when it comes to who are really the safest drivers on the road.






© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Deaf Message to FMCSA: “Let Us Drive”

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The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) recently announced that  more than twenty deaf and hard of hearing truck drivers who submitted applications for an exemption from the DOT hearing requirements through the NAD in July 2011 are now being considered for full Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL).

Although a victory for the deaf and hard of hearing, there are still many obstacles they are having to face, largely from various motor carriers who still refuse to hire even after the applicant has passed all required FMCSA and DOT standard tests.

Members of Deaf Truckers United

Members of Deaf Truckers United

Deaf Truckers United is a Facebook group hosted by Brenda Palmigiano and Dean DeRusso that  focuses on the future of deaf truck drivers, currently with over 100 members. 

They actively participate in discussions on current FMCSA rulings and are active in working toward gaining CMV driving priviledges for the deaf and hard of hearing.   

Extensive studies have been conducted in the past, pertaining to the safe driving skills of those who are deaf or experience extensive hearing loss.  These studies, some of which consist of hundreds of pages, have all concluded that deaf drivers are as safe or safer, than drivers with hearing. 

A problem for the deaf who are wanting to be CMV drivers is that few studies exist correlating safety with deaf CMV drivers due to the restrictions under FAR 391.41(b)(11).   Therefore, past studies were done on licensed private auto drivers of which is more acceptable and commonplace.

These studies continually showed that deaf drivers were as safe or safer operating a motor vehicle.  Studies concluded that four senses play a major role in driving skill:  vision, hearing, touch and smell.  The studies showed that deaf or hard of hearing drivers compensated their loss of hearing by further empowering their other senses.  One example given explained:

“When a tire was rubbing against a piece of steel on the truck, the deaf driver was able to smell the burning rubber and stop the vehicle before a problem occurred.”

Although accidents have occurred among deaf drivers, studies focused on the operation of a CMV suggest that the deaf or hard of hearing driver is most vunerable to accidents during off the road tasks such as performing the vehicle inspection. 

Many of these studies are outdated, going back as far as the mid 1970′s.  Today, modern technology has made it more possible for deaf drivers to operate a motor vehicle with even greater safety.

A larger problem for the deaf deals with the lack of support and knowledge such as:

  • The need for deaf  ”driver friendly” materials
  • Educating law enforcement and public transport systems personnel with “communication” skills
  • Training  for motor carriers, shippers, receivers on nonverbal improvements
Jesse Shelander of Deaf Truckers United

Jesse Shelander of Deaf Truckers United

Jesse Shelander, a member of Deaf Truckers United, expressed his concerns to the FMCSA during the 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention, with a simple message:  “Let us drive.”  

Here is his statement in its entirety:

“I would like to share with you briefly about the past in 1800’s, Deaf people would not even allowed to drive cars. They fought their legal rights to drive cars and they won because they proved themselves that they were better drivers than hearing drivers.”

“Somewhere down the road, there was a regulation 391.41 (b) (11) created under FMSCA that prevents many deaf people from driving trucks. I strongly felt that law is moot and outdated because I discovered that the auto insurance companies recognized us as Deaf drivers have better driving records than hearing drivers because our vision has taken over our ears.”

“I asked hearing truckers to see if they can hear 50 feet behind the wheel and they said no. If the hearing trucker can’t hear, then I strongly felt that there is nothing wrong with Deaf truckers to drive trucks.”

“FMSCA has created waivers for many years forcing deaf people to wear hearing aids that they do not need for their drivers with hope to gather evidence. Today there are no evidence of why people with over 40 DB hearing loss. Deaf people have found many modern technologies inside the truck that will assist them to detect any malfunction (i.e. airbrakes issues, warning light, PSI, qualicomm). And, yet the FMSCA has found any proof as deaf people drove for years effectively and no problems. There are no records of accidents.”

“Deaf Truckers are professional truck drivers. For some strange reason, Tuesday October 11, 2011, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) finally announced that the FMSCA will allow deaf people to drive with a Class A and B License. This is a history moment. We do not know if the pressure of the Social Media helped. But, we believe for past many years, we had many people get involved include Allen Smith of the Social media. We believe the hearing truckers issues are the same as the deaf truckers. We agree with the needs of hearing truckers and that the FMSCA is not doing a good job on ensuring that the RIGHT safety issues are overseen.”

“We are a perfect example of why the FMSCA is not doing their job. Our deaf truck drivers suffered for many years but the laws are still there. We do not want waivers to drive. We want to be treated as any driver out there. We are equal to them all. The truth is that it is all about the skills that we applied on daily basis just like any other hearing truckers perform on the job doing pre-trip inspection. If hearing trucker can perform the pre-trip inspection which it’s required by law before you go on the road, then Deaf trucker can do the same job as hearing trucker. We just need a paper in advance and go by numbers. If Deaf trucker can’t speak and can perform the driving job by using qualcomm to communicate, why discriminate against the Deaf trucker?”

“There are over 70 Deaf truckers over USA with no accident rates. We have found that in Canada and Australia, they do allow Deaf truckers to drive within their own country and why is it so hard in the United States of America?”

“We would like to propose to FMSCA removes the below laws because they are not safety issues.”

1) remove the three FMSCA regulations of 391.11(2), 391.41(b)(11), and 391.43(EARS).
2) We want to drive truck without any hearing aids requirements.
3) We want to remove to the requirement speak English because we need an ASL Interpreter from time to time.

“And we encourage the FMSCA to oversee the current laws that are false out there. There is a strong need to oversee the poor decisions of the FMSCA in the past and present. That is why we, the deaf community of truckers, and many truck drivers are here today. Because, the FMSCA are not doing the correct job to ensure that the true meaning of safety is upheld.  Again, today there are many regulations that are falsely represented. Please remove them,  including those three laws above.”

“Please remember that driving trucks is about SKILLS not about hearing.”


© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog

Trucking Safety Violations Bring Steep Fines

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FMCSA Safety Enforcement

FMCSA Safety Enforcement

On Tuesday, January 3rd, the newest federal law went into effect banning the use of cell phones by truckers while driving and with it . . . came steep fines.

The FMCSA is stepping up its enforcement against motor carriers and professional truck drivers who violate safety regulations, issuing fines that can range from $1,000 to $11,000.

A driver caught using the cell phone while driving could receive a citation for as much as $300, while also receiving a fine from the Federal Government for $2,700 for safety violations.  The motor carrier could be issued a fine as high as $11,000.

Although over 70% of CMV accidents are due to the direct fault of the non-cmv driver, the safety enforcement on motor carriers and truck drivers is well on its way.  These massive fines fall in place with the most recent change in the hours of service rule which in some part, take effect February 27th, 2012 with full HOS compliance by July 1, 2013.

Motor carriers, which include bus lines as well, are being hit hard by the new enforcement of the FMCSA safety regulations.  Recent bus lines and motor carriers who have been ordered to shut down and/or have received a cease and desist order include:

The FMCSA has made it clear to the transportation industry that they will “ensure that all carriers are within the regulations, and any that are not will be shut down immediately.”  

Both motor carriers and drivers will share in the responsibility of safe operations, facing the impact of large fines.

Richard Wilson of Trans Services

Richard Wilson of Trans Services

Regulatory expert, Richard Wilson of Trans Products Trans Services specializes in working with motor carriers and drivers in keeping in compliance with the ever-changing regulations.

He shared his expertise on the hours of service change, sleep apnea issues and the safety enforcement by FMCSA on carriers and drivers during our most recent Truth About Trucking “LIVE” talk radio program.

HOS Rule Change, Sleep Apnea, Safety Enforcement

© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Truck Driver Invited to Perform at 2012 Pre-Grammy Awards

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54th Annual Grammy Awards

54th Annual Grammy Awards

Professional truck driver, Tony Justice has been invited to perform at the 2012 pre-Grammy Awards party in Hollywood, California. 

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards will be held on February 12, 2012, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

As many of you know, Tony is a current long-haul truck driver who was also the “live” entertainment for the past 1st Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention last October. 

Being involved with music his entire life, he has juggled his music career with his truck driving career for years, recently achieving recognition by receiving radio play for his song, “Bring Daddy Home,” which was penned for showing support for our military and their families. 

Tony Justice - On The Road Album

Tony Justice – On The Road Album

Pilot Travel Centers have also shown their support for Tony by making his most recent album, “On The Road” available at all of their travel centers nationwide. 

After years of hard work and dedication, Tony is excited for this most recent opportunity to perform at the 2012 pre-Grammy awards saying, “You can bet I’ll be wearing my peterbilt hat and representing all of America’s truck drivers with pride!”

Way to go, Tony!


© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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Category : Ask The Trucker | Blog