Mavric Trucking Inc

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Date: January 15, 2020

With truck fatalities on the rise, FMCSA to study the cause of deadly semi crashes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a major new study into the underlying causes behind fatal large truck crashes.

In a Request for Information document to be published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2020, the FMCSA announced plans to begin a groundbreaking new study into the causal factors in large truck crashes — dubbed the Large Truck Crash Causal Factors Study (LTCCFS).

The FMCSA pointed to a rise in truck crash fatalities as a reason for the study: “Over the last three years (2016- 2018), fatal crashes involving large trucks increased 5.7 percent. This study will help FMCSA identify factors that are contributing to the growth in fatal large truck crashes, and in both injury and property damage only (PDO) crashes. These factors will drive new initiatives to reduce crashes on our nations roadways.”

The FMCSA says that they “seek information on how best to design and conduct a study to identify factors contributing to all FMCSA reportable large truck crashes (towaway, injury and fatal).”

The agency says that the purpose of the study is “to yield information that will help FMCSA and the truck safety community to identify activities and other measures likely to lead to significant reductions in the frequency, severity, and crash rate involving commercial motor vehicles.”

The FMCSA laid out three specific goals for the LTCCFS study:

  1. Evaluate crashes involving large trucks and identify emerging trends;
  2. Monitor crash trends and identify causes and contributing factors; and
  3. Develop effective safety improvement policies and programs.

The announcement of the LTCCFS comes just months after worrisome new statistics showed an uptick in fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2018 that corresponded with the first full year that the Electronic Logging Device Mandate was in effect for most truck drivers.

In October 2019, the NHTSA released a report on crash fatalities in 2018 — the first full year since the FMCSA required most truckers to start using ELDs to track Hours of Service compliance in December of 2017. The FMCSA promised that the ELD Mandate would “help create a safer work environment for drivers.”

While there was a 2.4% decrease in crash fatalities for all drivers, the NHTSA data showed that fatal crashes involving large trucks actually increased by 0.9%.

During a similar study conducted by the FMCSA in 2001 — 2003, the FMCSA said that “a primary finding of the study was that in the vast majority of crashes where the critical reason for the crash was assigned to the large truck, it was attributed to a driver-related action or inaction.”

The FMCSA will be accepting public comments on the study for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. For more information on how you can submit your comments once the comment period officially opens, please click here.

Senators call for more truck information on popular GPS apps

 

Three leading senators from the Northeast are calling on the makers of popular smartphone navigation apps to add data to help prevent incidents of trucks striking low bridges on prohibited routes. The president of one state trucking association is praising the suggestion, calling it a “commonsense” solution that ought to be easy to implement.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D. Conn., Monday, Jan. 13, called on the makers of GPS apps for smartphones to add what he called “commonsense info on highway height, weight, and other restrictions” to their navigation apps so truckers do not enter Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways. Trucks are not allowed on the parkways — and those in neighboring New York, Massachusetts,  and New Jersey — but some drivers follow the directions on the apps, which don’t necessarily show truck restrictions.

In a news conference and separately in a letter sent Monday with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., Blumenthal called on tech giants Google, Apple and Waze to include information that would keep trucks off restricted parkways and reduce collisions with low-bridges.

“As more commercial vehicle drivers use these applications, we can expect accidents and damage to roadways to increase unless a solution is found,” said the letter from the senators. Blumenthal said truckers and others often rely on the apps to route them around traffic congestion on other routes and ignore or do not see signs warning against truck traffic on the parkways.

Vehicles taller than 8 feet, longer than 24 feet or wider than 7 1/2 feet or weigh more than 7,500 lbs. are not allowed on the parkways in Connecticut, for example.

Joseph Sculley is the president of the Motor Truck Association of Connecticut and said he was heartened to see Blumenthal “put a commonsense idea on the table” to address the issue that can be a public relations problem for the trucking industry. Sculley said that while members of the MTAC know to avoid the parkways, the problem is usually caused by out-of-state truckers who may not be using truck-specific GPS units.

“Every time a truck gets stuck (under a low bridge on a parkway) it makes headlines, and the PR is not good for trucking,” said Sculley. He said adding the information ought to be easy for the tech companies to do, and his 550-member organization expects to work with others to make it happen.

Earlier this month Schumer also called on GPS makers to include at-grade railroad crossing information to their programs. In a letter to 10 technology companies, including Google, the senior senator from New York reminded them the National Transportation Safety Board in 2016 recommended such information be included following an accident in California that took the life of an engineer and injured 32 others. Schumer said there are 5,358 at-grade railroad crossings in New York alone.

A number of people made comments on the Blumentah’s Facebook page following Monday’s press conference.

Wendy Bly: “Unfortunately, it is the drivers at fault, not the application. I drive an RV, and know that the regular GPS systems for cars do not take into account for height clearance. Professional truck drivers should also know that there are special applications for trucks that do list heights… it’s a matter of ignorance or being cheap (trucker app is more expensive). Also, any time there is a clearance issue, signage on the road is clearly posted with enough notice… It is sad that our government has to do our thinking for us…”

Alfred Craig Jenkins: “Pardon me! But as a CDL license holder. We’re taught that (parkways) aren’t for any type of bus or trucks … period. Any truck driver that’s using that excuse shouldn’t be driving.”

William Hau: “I think this is a great idea. I tow a smallish boat and any mistake with a bridge would be a very expensive one. I thought the truck drivers had dedicated GPS devices that already had this. I can assure you no 18 wheeler wants to be on the parkway.”

Patricia Demers Suski: “There are signs for NO commercial vehicles. The truck drivers should be responsible! GPS make errors. Mine has told me to go down a road that doesn’t exist. Do I? Of course not. The driver needs to use common sense. Let’s stop blaming everyone/everything else.

Cliff Kelsey: “Drove truck all over the USA with only paper maps. (C)ommon sense is what’s lacking. (T) here are maps and books that show restricted routes and low underpass.”

Kyrra Gelinas: “This is literally the dumbest thing ever. Waze has options that let you put in what kind of vehicle you’re driving. There are signs leading up to the Merritt that SAY no commercial vehicles. How about adding common sense DRIVERS to the road?”

Brian Worth Sr.: “Low clearance needs to be posted in Russian and about 12 different languages or we could make CDLs contingent on a mastery of basic English.”

Tom Brown: “What happened to reading all the signs, knowing your truck height and so on. You need to take responsibility if you’re driving and not blame it on the GPS!”

Mario Caiti: “Why doesn’t Waze have a trucker mode?!?!?! They have the best and brightest building their app and they plain forgot about trucks.”

Salvatore Lanzieri: “What I don’t understand is why people driving trucks don’t put GPS on truck mode!?!?!? I drive truck and use it especially when I’m not really too familiar with (the) area. GPS has stopped me more than once from getting on Taconic State (Parkway) in New York.

Stephanie Pinto Johnson: “If the gigantic signs that state “No Trucks” don’t trigger a common-sense response, I’m not sure what Google, Apple and Waze are going to do.”

Timothy Rourke: “Agree! Seems silly Google has not added vehicle profile info. I have ended up on low-clearance parkways with our RV that prompted some emergency lane changes. Not safe.”

Richard Ciotti: “I can’t say I buy this excuse. If you just slavishly follow GPS, without reviewing the route ahead of time, and know so little about the area that you aren’t aware of height restrictions, maybe you shouldn’t be on the road.”

Truckers News has contacted Google, Apple and Waze for comment and has yet to hear from them. We’ll add their responses when/if they are received.

 

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