Thursday, July 31, 2014

Call it the celebrity effect

Mainstream media have clamped down on trucking in the wake of the wreck on the New Jersey Turnpike that involved a tractor-trailer and a limo van carrying celebrity comedian Tracy Morgan.

Our media counterparts out there in the “mainstream” are having a field day and those of us here at Land Line are simply ill. And you, our readers, have to feel sucker punched every time you open Facebook or click on a news website.

That alone is bad enough. It’s tragic in the minds of the reporters here at Land Line. We work hard to understand the facts, the actual statistics, the databases the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses … I could go on. But you get the picture. We like to have things, well, right.

Mainstream is now a pawn in a bigger battle being waged in Congress and by FMCSA.

The spin cycle on the D.C. Beltway is using the mainstream media’s current infatuation with “if it bleeds, it leads” truck wreck coverage.

Lawmakers and bureaucrats alike are using half-truths and half-baked statistics along with outright misrepresentation of facts to justify ever more and more regulations on trucking.

The swell of criticism of trucking cannot be quelled with one swing of the axe. Putting a stop to this is a lot like eating an elephant. The only way to do it is one bite at a time.

That means writing letters to the editor. Writing the networks – hint, hint, NBC, cough, cough. Pushing back every time you see another one of these so-called investigative reports that simply regurgitate whatever they are being fed by the agency and lawmakers and in press releases.

That communication has to come from everyone. Not just us.

So, to help you out, here are some dandy facts you can use to counter the crap “news” out there.

The most recent year of complete crash data released was 2012. Here are some key points:
  • There were 3,464 fatal crashes involving large trucks.
  • 3,921 people died crashes involving large trucks (not 10,000).
  • Research shows that of those 3,464 wrecks involving large trucks, 75 to 80 percent of those wrecks were not the fault of the trucker.
What the media should be focused on is how most people on the road are dying.
  • There were 26,540 fatal crashes that did not involve large trucks.
  • 29,156 people died in crashes that did not involve large trucks.
Every life is precious. That can never be forgotten. But there’s a bigger picture out there and this easy grab of vilifying large trucks is diverting the time and attention away from the bigger problem: personal vehicle drivers.