Friday, December 9, 2016

If HOS violations decline, does anyone hear it?

Normally I would answer that question with an emphatic no. However, someone did take notice. I stumbled across a fantastic piece reviewing hours-of-service compliance over the past three years. The Journal of Commerce did a great job spotting the violations that matter (driving over hours) and those that are pretty much BS (form and manner).

It was a well thought out and researched piece. I differ with the writer’s end-shot (more on that in a second), but I want to hit a few high points in the piece.

The overall number of hours-of-service violations decreased 13.7 percent from fiscal year 2015 to 2016, JOC reports from FMCSA data. Even better news, the Journal reports, is that violations for driving after 11 hours and driving after 14 hours both dropped by “double digits.” I did some quick math on the same FMCSA Analysis and Information data and found that to be 12 percent and 15 percent declines respectively. There’s more good stuff in the article here. Check it out.

While those are impressive declines, JOC also reports a jaw-dropping 62 percent decline in year-to-year in violations was for logs not being kept current.

I love the insight the reporter showed when talking about “form and manner” violations. Those violations, in the reporter’s words, are “typically minor logbook errors ranging from missing data and incorrect use of abbreviations in remarks to sloppiness in graphically recording hours.” Well done, sir. Well done.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Which states are the deadliest to drive in?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 35,000 people lost their lives in traffic crashes last year, marking the largest annual increase in 50 years. With the roads being a dangerous place, where are the worst places to drive?

Montana.

The Auto Insurance Center compiled 11 years of fatal crash data from NHTSA and ranked states by fatalities per 100,000 residents. Topping the list by a rather large margin is Montana with 108.12 traffic deaths for every 100,000 residents. Check out the map to the right.

With the exception of Montana, a majority of the states with high fatality rates are concentrated in two areas: the South and three connected states in the Midwest. Glean what you will from that information, but several theories may help explain Montana’s high rate of traffic deaths.

To start, Montana has speed limits of up to 80 mph. Trucks are limited to 65 mph, one of the largest speed differentials in the nation. High passenger speeds mixed with significantly lower heavy-duty commercial vehicle speeds is a recipe for disaster.

Second, seat belt use in Montana in 2015 was the fourth worst in the United States (77 percent), followed only by New Hampshire (69.5 percent), South Carolina (73.6 percent) and Massachusetts (74.1 percent). The national average was 88.5 percent.

Lastly, Montana ranks sixth in highest percentage of traffic deaths where a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher was involved (38 percent) in 2014. In fatal crashes involving a BAC of 0.15 or higher, Montana tied Rhode Island for highest percentage of crashes in the state at 30 percent.

With high speeds, large speed differentials, low seat belt usage and a lot of drinking and driving going on, it’s not too surprising that Montana’s fatal crash rate is the highest in the nation.

Let’s not forget the fact that Montana is among the most rural states in the country, placing firehouses and hospitals further away when compared to more urban and suburban areas. Your chances of survival decrease each passing minute it takes for emergency crews to respond.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What does the word ‘self-driving’ even mean?

Self-driving.

It’s a term you have probably seen a lot lately and should expect to see pop up often for … well … the rest of our lives at this point. But what does it mean?

That’s actually a really good question and one the consumer advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is demanding the California Department of Motor Vehicles clarify. In a letter to the director of the DMV, Consumer Watchdog asks the department to “start a formal rulemaking to enact a regulation protecting consumers from misleading advertising.”

More specifically, the consumer group is talking about the use of the term “self-driving” whenever the DMV is referring to vehicles that feature any level of automation. Consumer Watchdog claims that “self-driving” can leave a dangerous and sometimes fatal impression that a car is more capable of driving itself than it actually is.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Don’t let the mega carriers call the shots on speed limiters

We hear it every single day. On the phones with members. Chatting with visitors to OOIDA’s HQ. And poor Jon Osburn, captain of OOIDA’s tour truck, he hears it all day long, every day.

Speed limiters.

You would think with that much angst and complaining that we would be seeing some sort of legitimate movement. But, as of last check first thing Monday morning after they posted the weekend comments, there were only – and I stress only – 6,411 comments filed.

I promise I’m not going to get into a bunch of government jargon and politi-speak. So keep reading.