Texas Motor Transportaion Association Safety Management Council  98 Fall Seminar
by William B. Trescott

Bill Webb, President of TMTA announced:

    that the proposed hours of service rules are tentatively as follows:  14 hours on and 10 hours off with no distinction between driving time and on-duty time.  There will be a 32 hour mandatory break before two weeks with the clock set to zero after the break.  There is a possibility of a night-time differential where hours worked at night will count more tward the total hours than daytime hours.  Drivers who drive regular routes will no longer need to keep logbooks.  What constitutes a  regular route  has not been defined.  A TMTA member expressed misgivings about compliance with paperless logs.   A driver s Hours of Service would be when the truck tells him he can drive.   He was unsure weather drivers would be willing to obey their trucks.  Usually, it is the truck that obeys the driver.

Allan Rutter, Director of transportation policy for Governor Bush announced:

    that he wanted to stop speculation that he would be the next Secretary of Transportation if Gov. Bush is elected President.   I ve had a bright spotlight shining in my face and I m still blinking,  he said.   The Federal DOT is proposing a national network for longer combination vehicles and heavier trucks.  The longer trucks would be restricted to the network.  Texas DOT had not received a human cry to roll back speed limits.  An increase in truck speeds is opposed by insurers and traffic safety activists.  Texas is considering adopting a program tried in Canada where some trucking companies with above average safety records will be eligable for expedited service at scales and insurance discounts.   I asked Mr. Rutter if special weight exemptions would be given for modern safety technology such as disc brakes, or regenerative braking.  He said there was no plans at this time, but Freightliner Corp. had requested a 90,000 lb. exemption for a truck-trailer combination with several new safety features and had been refused.

Captain Robert Burroughs, Texas Motor Carrier Bureau announced:

    Any city or county with 2.4 million population may open a truck inspection facility.  These can be staffed by certified local police officers.  A non-certified officer can write a ticket when supervised by a certified officer when there is probable cause.  Bill Webb stated that if the city of Pasadena goes forward with their plans to do it the way they say they are going to do it, the TMTA may take action against them.  Bill Webb said,  The bulk of the troops do not know diddly-squat about commercial vehicles--nothing whatsoever,  then asked,  Is that true?   Captain Larry Marshall of Texas DPS responded,  As of Monday ( the following week) it is not all true!
Captain Coy Clanton said that if the DPS were called to testify on the issue of split speed limits, he would reccomend to keep them as they are because accident data shows an increase in severity with higher speeds.  I asked Capt. Clanton if his data also took into account additional deaths from stress related illnesses such as heart attacks, strokes, and substance abuse such as cigarette smoking resulting from the additional job stress of constant near-misses with motorists coming too close during passing manuvers when such passing would not occur with uniform speed limits.  Capt. Clanton agreed that I was probably right that there are more stress related deaths in split speed limit states, but since no study had been done he was sticking to his previous position.  He did, however, walk over to the Truckers Bill of Rights I had posted on the wall and read them.  Bill Webb said the TMTA has no intrest in conducting such a study because all research so far suggests that trucking is stressful regardless weather or not there are split speed limits.  Such a study could cause truckers to fall under the umbrella of more OSHA regulations than we have now to comply with.  

Bill Webb, President of the TMTA said:

     The greatest fundamental grass-roots issue in the world has to do with what speed cars drive.  There is not a legislator in the world that wants to talk about slowing cars down and it is much easier to get trucks to slow down because you don t have the same grass-roots problem about that...so I have seen that spin of there being more of trying to slow the trucks down and we d like to slow the cars down, but we re not going to get into that!    We don t like speed differentials!
Capt. Clanton added that Texas leads the nation in commercial vehicle crashes though the frequency per mile is not as high as some other states.  In 68% of crashes the trucker is not at fault.  (note: this figure is considerably less than in statistics compiled more than ten years ago before the introduction of truck driving schools, lower pay, and higher turnover, when in the past 80-82% of crashes the trucker was not at fault)

Capt. David Kemp of the TX DPS said that all Texas Highway Patrol officers will now be required to watch the No-Zone video because a trooper had difficulty getting a truck to stop after tailgating it for several miles with lights and siren blaring.  

Don Montgomery, Director of Safety at Howell Transportation and TMTA OSHA expert said:

There are more than 2,000 occupational motor vehicle deaths a year and and 200,000 disabling injuries.  This is 30% of all occupational fatalities nationwide.    Truck driving is the leading cause of occupational death in the United States--which means we re in the #1 slot.   (This means that one out of every ten Americans killed on the job is a trucker.  The odds of being killed on the job are 1 in 4000 in any given year or 1 out of 100 truckers are killed in a 40 year career.  Trucking used to be #7 ten years ago.)  Mr. Montgomery also commented on the cruse control issue citing a study done by American Freightways in which collisions in cruise control equipped trucks were significantly more severe than in normal trucks prompting American Freightways to remove cruise control from all of its trucks.  He felt that space cushion management was being neglected by drivers using cruise control and that this was a serious issue in split speed limit states where traffic is continually cutting in front.

OSHA fines are $7,000 for negligent violations an employer should have known about.
$70,000 or $5,000 per violation (whichever is greater) for willful violations and
6 months in jail and $250,000 for any individual convicted of intentionally violating OSHA regulations and $500,000 for a corporation.  Falsifying records is a $10,000 fine and 6 months in jail.

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