Last week, I stumbled across an article on Gawker, entitled Truck Drivers Outraged That They’ll Get More Sleep Soon. The article trivializes the new HOS requirements and the impact the changes will have on drivers and consumers.
The article’s author, HAMILTON NOLAN, begins by stating, “You’d think that if you worked more than 80 hours a week and somebody came to you and said, “Hey buddy, I only want you to work 70 hours a week now,” you’d be happy as a clam. Unless you were a long-haul trucker. Never satisfied, these guys.”
“Haha, maybe those truckers wouldn’t be so touchy if hey got more sleep, amirite? Haha, [methamphetamine joke],” Nolan jokes.
He then goes onto quote a WSJ article that explains the FMCSA’s reasoning for the changes to HOS: truck safety, less fatigue, 70 hour work week. “The goal is to make sure those hardworking truck drivers out there get some nice sleep, so they don’t plow into the rest of us at high speeds,” Nolan summarizes.
Nolan then throws in this statistic, “The Transportation Department says 3,887 people were killed in 2012 in crashes involving large trucks. It doesn’t have precise statistics on fatigue-related crashes, but cited one study showing that roughly 13% of large-truck crashes involve a sleep-deprived driver.”
What Nolan fails to recognize is that car drivers are more often at-fault in car-truck accidents.
In February, the ATA released a report that summarizes car-truck crash statistics, and the findings are clear– in crashes, car drivers are more often at fault than truck drivers.
The ATA analyzed crash data from the University of Michigan, the National Highway Safety Administration, AAA and the FMCSA. The results of their analysis showed that the majority of crashes involving a car and truck are caused by the car driver. According to the report, “car drivers were assigned factors in 81% of crashes versus 27% of truck drivers.”
Summary of the ATA’s report:
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI): UMTRI is a leader in truck-related crash research. The highlighted study assigns driver factors to 8,309 fatal car-truck crashes as a proxy for fault.
• Car drivers were assigned factors in 81% of crashes versus 27% of truck drivers •
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA): Tasked with “reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes,” NHTSA has undertaken extensive research on the topic. Their 2003 study assigned causal driver factors in 10,092 fatalities.
• Cars were assigned driver factors in 91% of head-on crashes, 91% of opposite-direction sideswipes, 71% of rear-end crashes, and 77% of same-direction sideswipes
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: The foundation’s mission is “to identify traffic safety problems, foster research that seeks solutions and disseminate information and educational materials.” This study, one of over 250 projects they’ve funded to discover the causes of crashes, examined 10,732 fatal accidents.
• 36% of car drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts • 11% of truck drivers were cited for two or more unsafe acts
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA): FMCSA is the primary regulating agency for the trucking industry whose stated mission is “to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.” Two studies are noted below.
Annual Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts: Cites driver factors in 6,131 car-truck fatal crashes
• 2007: 85% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 26% of trucks • 2008: 85% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 26% of trucks • 2009: 81% of cars were assigned driver factors versus 22% of trucks
Nolan explains that independent drivers are outraged, because the depleted work hours will make it harder for independents to compete with large corporations and will cut their earnings.
Dave Osiecki, vice president for safety policy at American Trucking Association estimates that he changes to HOS will reduce productivity up to as much as 10%, which may not sound a lot, but when you consider that trucks haul more than 80% of all consumable goods.
“Now we are moving the same amount of freight with less time on the road, which means companies have to add trucks and drivers, and that comes at cost,” he says.
That cost will ultimately be passed onto the consumer. Experts estimate that it may take as long as a year to fully understand the impact.
Noland’s statements about the changes to HOS, their implications are ignorant. He clearly did not do his research.
“Unionize the trucking industry, raise gas taxes, tax the rich and subsidize sleep for the working class, more sleep for the proletariat, more sleep for everyone, everyone go to sleep, holiday weekend for all citizens (to sleep),” he concludes.