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Truck Driver Turnover Rate Rises for Fourth Straight Quarter

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Transport Topics
Source: ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=28273

The turnover rate for truckload drivers at large fleets rose to 89% in the third quarter, from 79% in the second quarter, the fourth straight increase, American Trucking Associations reported.

The benchmark turnover rate is now at its highest level since the first quarter of 2008, ATA said.

The large fleet truckload turnover rate is an indication of increased demand and competition for drivers.

“Due to the economic recovery, as well as regulatory factors like [the federal Compliance, Safety, Accountability program], we are seeing the market for good, quality drivers tighten,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello... Continue reading.

Source: ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=28273

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Truck Fatalities Rose in 2010

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Transport Topics
Source: ttnews.com/articles/lmtbase.aspx?storyid=1639

Fatalities in U.S. highway accidents involving large trucks increased 8.7% in 2010, the first increase in four years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week.

A total of 3,675 people died in truck-related accidents in 2010, an increase of 295 from the 2009 total of 3,380, NHTSA said in its annual report.

In addition, the number of people injured in truck-related accidents rose to 19,000 in 2010, from 17,000 in 2009, a 12% increase.

At the same time, truck occupant fatalities increased by 6%, to 529 in 2010 from 499 in 2009.

“We’re still trying to figure out clearly what [caused] this uptick,” NHTSA Administrator Davie Strickland said at a Dec. 8 press conference where the report was unveiled.

American Trucking Associations said that in the 10-year period from 1999 to 2009, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes dropped by 35%, while injury crashes dropped by 48%... Continue reading.

Source: ttnews.com/articles/lmtbase.aspx?storyid=1639

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Secretary Ray LaHood Announces - "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over"

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Announces
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” Crackdown on Drunk Driving
New Research Shows Major Drop in Drunk Driving Fatalities in Many States



WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today kicked off a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving coinciding with the 2011 winter holiday season. New data show drunk driving deaths declined in 2010 in many parts of the country. However, the data also show that fatalities from alcohol-impaired driving crashes continue to account for one in three deaths on American roadways each year.

“Safety is our focus year round at DOT. But this holiday season, we’re stepping up our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads and reminding Americans ‘drive sober, or get pulled over,’” said Secretary LaHood. “We’re making gains in our fight against drunk driving, but we cannot and will not let up.”

New state-by-state data for 2010 released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a decline in drunk driving fatalities in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Compared with 2009, California and Florida saw the largest reductions—with each declining by more than 100 fatalities last year.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have outlawed driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Yet NHTSA data show that last year, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, including 415 during the second half of December alone.

The education and enforcement effort is the latest push in the Department’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign involving thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country. The winter holiday enforcement crackdown is supported by a $7 million national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over advertisement campaign that runs from December 16 through January 2. The ads, which first premiered this past summer, feature “invisible” law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals and then apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads are designed to raise awareness and support law enforcement activities in every state. They convey the message that law enforcement officers are vigilant in deterring drunk drivers.

“Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement and safety advocates and the incredible commitment of organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we are making real progress in reducing drunk driving deaths,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Our message to drivers is clear: if you decide to drink, find a safe and sober ride home or you will be pulled over.”

Secretary LaHood and NHTSA Administrator Strickland were joined for today’s announcement by Virginia law enforcement officials and Jan Withers, National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“The data clearly show that while drunk driving remains the primary threat to American families on our roadways, we have a path to progress,” said Withers. "Increased enforcement efforts around the holidays are a vital part of MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, which relies on proven drunk driving countermeasures to eliminate the leading cause of highway fatalities."

To view NHTSA's 2010 state-by-state data on impaired driving fatalities, click here.

To view the Department's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" television ads, click here.
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TCA's New Music Video - Highway Angel

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TCA has announced the availability of a new video aimed at improving the image of truck drivers. A link can be found at: truckload.org/Highway-Angel.

While we attended the presentation of the Trucking’s Top Rookie award at the Dallas Truck Show, Michael Darling, Gary Strube, Bruce Busada and Mike O’Connell met the artist, who performed the song during the presentation ceremony.



The trucking industry is dedicated to providing professional, safe, and courteous truck drivers. Because you share the road with truck drivers, you are in the best position to assist us in identifying those truck drivers who are truly Highway Angels.

Highway Angel recognition is awarded for a driver's "good deeds", ranging from simple acts of kindness, such as fixing a flat tire, to heroic life-saving efforts, such as pulling someone from a burning vehicle and administering CPR. When you know of, witness, or experience an exceptional act of kindness or courtesy by a truck driver, please take the time to fill out and submit this Highway Angel nomination form.

Not only will the truck drivers you nominate receive your recognition of superior performance, but TCA will also reward them as a Highway Angel by sending them a lapel pin, clothing patch and personalized certificate of appreciation. The drivers' companies will also receive a personalized certificate of recognition that they can hang in their terminals or offices for everyone to see.

In addition to special recognition by TCA and the driver's company, the Highway Angel program seeks to promote greater public recognition of Angels through the placement of articles in industry trade press.

As the program continues to focus on improving the public's image of truck driving as a profession, and providing a program that recognizes drivers and helps individual drivers feel better about themselves and their professions, companies use this program as a source of increasing morale and self image among their driving force. The Angel program has become part of their recruitment and retention programs.


Source: truckload.org/Highway-Angel
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ODAPC's Random Testing Rates Have Been Updated

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ODAPC's web site has been updated to reflect the CY 2012 random drug and alcohol testing rates within the transportation industries.

Please note the 2012 annual random testing rates will remain the same as the 2011 rates.

The following chart outlines the annual minimum drug and alcohol random testing rates established within DOT Agencies and the USCG for 2012:

DOT Agency
2012 Random Drug Testing Rate
2012 Random Alcohol Testing Rate
Federal Aviation Administration
[FAA]

25%

10%

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
[FMCSA]

50%

10%

Federal Railroad Administration
[FRA]

25%

10%

Federal Transit Administration
[FTA]

25%

10%

Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
[PHMSA]

25%

N/A

United States
Coast Guard
[USCG] (now with the Dept. of Homeland Security)

50%

N/A

NOTE: Employers (and C/TPAs) subject to more than one DOT Agency drug and alcohol testing rule may continue to combine covered employees into a single random selection pool. However, companies (and C/TPAs) doing so must test at or above the highest minimum annual random testing rates established by the DOT Agencies under whose jurisdiction they fall. For example, an employer having both FMCSA- and FRA-covered employees in one pool must test, as a minimum rate, 50% for drugs and 10% for alcohol. PHMSA- and USCG-regulated employees should not to be placed in DOT random alcohol testing pools. Contact the appropriate DOT Agency for additional clarification.

[Please note that USCG covered employees may be combined with DOT covered employees in drug testing pools even though the USCG is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.]

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Brokers Say DOT Agencies Fail to Share Data

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By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter
Transport Topics

This story appears in the Dec. 5 print edition of Transport Topics.

A lack of information-sharing between two Department of Transportation agencies with safety responsibilities is jeopardizing the safety of hazardous materials shipments, the head of the freight brokers’ trade association said.

The reportedly error-plagued Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration carrier registration database and the fleet record-keeping system of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration aren’t connected electronically, said Robert Voltmann, president of the Transportation Intermediaries Association.

Voltmann said users can’t rely on PHMSA’s data, which shippers and brokers need to check because they’re legally required to use hazardous materials carriers certified by that agency.
“In spite of all the national security concern about securing supply lines, hazardous materials are moving through neighborhoods, and the agency [DOT] doesn’t know who they have given licenses to and whether that data is accurate or current,” Voltmann told Transport Topics. “Industry is made to guess on its own.”

PHMSA spokeswoman Patricia Klinger in a Dec. 1 statement acknowledged that the agency’s publicly available hazardous material information “is not real-time data but rather a cumulative data report from the previous month.”

In a joint statement, the two agencies told TT that “although not publicly available at this time, PHMSA and FMCSA developed and utilize a joint registration validation process,” describing that effort as “an invaluable first step into data integration providing an efficient method for sharing information,.”

A recent FMCSA action to shut down Gunthers Transport, Hanover, Md., illustrates the situation. FMCSA shut down Gunthers on Nov. 8 because it posed an “imminent hazard” after repeated violations. Yet PHMSA still listed a valid hazardous materials registration for Gunthers on its website as late as Nov. 30.

“There is a disconnect,” said Annette Sandberg, currently the principal at TransSafe Consulting and FMCSA’s administrator from 2003 until 2006. “There are issues of the databases not talking to each other, and there is no data checking. FMCSA has the issue of how to accurately determine who is a [registered] hazardous materials carrier.

PHMSA doesn’t require a DOT [identification] number or an MC [FMCSA motor carrier] number when a carrier registers,” added Sandberg, who said inadequate funding was causing the problem. “It would help to make the database easier to search if it contained that information.”
The absence of a requirement to include those numbers makes PHMSA’s data “useless,” said Voltmann, whose group asked that agency to require that information. “FMCSA wants to put the hazardous materials information into its database, but they don’t know who [carriers] are, so they have to guess.”

If DOT or MC numbers are missing from PHMSA’s database, it’s impossible to know if the carrier actually has operating authority when brokers do computer data searches, said Jeffrey Tucker, CEO of Tucker Co. Worldwide, which offers brokerage services.

In other cases, Tucker added, computer searches can’t properly process available carrier data that is supposed to contain only numbers because it has letters as well.

He claimed that as much as 40% of PHMSA entries are inaccurate or incomplete.

While Tucker criticized PHMSA, he praised FMCSA, saying “their data is very good.” Its value results from daily updates with changes such as fleets that lost insurance or operating authority.
TIA officials met with Ryan Posten, senior director at PHMSA, in late October to express its concerns, Voltmann said, but the trade group hasn’t received any response. It’s also been rebuffed in efforts to access databases other than PHMSA’s system, which is known as Regis11Excel.

Carriers also recognize the issue.

“FMCSA and PHMSA don’t have the time or resources to focus on what they would like to do, which includes a top-notch information system,” said John Conley, president of the National Tank Truck Carriers Conference. “We really have no idea of how many companies that should be registered there are not.”

Conley said the agencies are instead “wasting their time and resources on politically motivated nonsense,” such as a proposal to ban flammable liquids from tank trailer wetlines during transport.
“The need for reliable data throughout the Department of Transportation is even more important with CSA,” Conley said, referring to the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that evaluates fleet safety.

Because of the data gap, Tucker added, FMCSA is forced to add weight in its CSA scoring system to hazardous materials violations. However, that increased emphasis means that carriers with such violations are penalized more heavily, Tucker added.

Conley offered some advice to brokers and shippers.

“If shippers or brokers are having a problem getting information from the Department of Transportation regarding who is a registered hazardous materials carrier, I suggest they are talking to the wrong people,” Conley said. “It is the responsibility of the shipper or broker to get this information from the carrier.”

Tucker responded that shippers and brokers often obtain hazardous materials data from carriers for their regular, or core, carriers.   “But brokers and shippers still need smaller [carriers] for the remaining 10% or so of their business,” Tucker said. “They want to be able to rely on that data.
“The world we live in relies on quick data access,” he observed. “From a logical standpoint wouldn’t you think that FMCSA and PHMSA databases would talk to each other?”

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Lowest Level Of Annual Traffic Fatalities In More Than Six Decades

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NHTSA 21-11
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Contact: Karen Aldana
Tel: 202-366-9550

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces
Lowest Level Of Annual Traffic Fatalities In More Than Six Decades

Updated 2010 FARS data includes new measure of ‘distraction-affected’ fatalities; national attitude survey offers additional insight into problem of distracted driving.

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced updated 2010 fatality and injury data showing that highway deaths fell to 32,885 for the year, the lowest level since 1949. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 2009 level.

“While we have more work to do to continue to protect American motorists, these numbers show we’re making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation’s roadways,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to the tireless work of our safety agencies and partner organizations over the past few decades, to save lives and reduce injuries, we’re saving lives, reducing injuries, and building the foundation for what we hope will be even greater success in the future.”

The updated information released by the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today indicates 2010 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, down from 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009. Other key statistics include:

  • Fatalities declined in most categories in 2010, including for occupants of passenger cars and light trucks (including SUVs, minivans and pickups).
  • Deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers dropped 4.9 percent in 2010, taking 10,228 lives compared to 10,759 in 2009.
  • Fatalities rose among pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and large truck occupants.

New Measure of Fatalities Related to Distracted Driving

NHTSA also unveiled a new measure of fatalities related to distracted driving today, called “distraction-affected crashes.” Introduced for 2010 as part of a broader effort by the agency to refine its data collection to get better information about the role of distraction in crashes, the new measure is designed to focus more narrowly on crashes in which a driver was most likely to have been distracted. While NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) previously recorded a broad range of potential distractions, such as careless driving and cell phone present in the vehicle, the new measure focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement, such as distraction by dialing a cellular phone or texting and distraction by an outside person/event.  New data released today by NHTSA using its refined methodology show an estimated 3,092 fatalities in distraction-affected crashes in 2010.

The NHTSA effort to refine distraction data is similar to a step taken with alcohol information in FARS data for 2006. Prior to 2006, FARS reported “alcohol-related crashes,” which was defined as crashes in which a driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist had a blood alcohol level of .01 or higher. In an effort to focus on crashes in which alcohol was most likely to be a causative factor, NHTSA introduced the new measure, “alcohol-impaired driving crashes,” with a more narrow definition including only those crashes in which a driver or motorcycle rider had a blood alcohol level of .08 or above, the legal limit in every state.

“Even as we celebrate the incredible gains we’re making in reducing traffic fatalities, we recognize our responsibility to improve our understanding of the dangers that continue to threaten drivers and passengers,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why, under the leadership of Secretary LaHood, NHTSA is working to refine the way we collect data on distracted driving and laying the groundwork for additional research to capture real-world information on this risky behavior.”

While the explicit change in methodology means the new measure cannot be compared to the 5,474 “distraction-related” fatalities reported in 2009, other NHTSA data offer some indication that driver distraction continues to be a significant problem. The agency’s nationwide observational survey of drivers in traffic remains unchanged between 2009 and 2010, with 5 percent of drivers seen talking on handheld phones. In addition, given ongoing challenges in capturing the scope of the problem—including individuals’ reluctance to admit behavior, lack of witnesses, and in some cases the death of the driver—NHTSA believes the actual number of crashes that involve distracted driving could be higher.

National Attitude Survey on Distracted Driving

A new national NHTSA survey offers additional insights into how drivers behave when it comes to texting and cell phone use while behind the wheel and their perceptions of the safety risks of distracted driving. Survey respondents indicated they answer calls on most trips; they acknowledge few driving situations when they would not use the phone or text; and yet they feel unsafe when riding in vehicles in which the driver is texting and they support bans on texting and cell phone use. These findings provide further evidence that distracted driving is a complex problem that is both hard to measure and difficult to address given conflicting public attitudes and behaviors.

“The findings from our new attitude survey help us understand why some people continue to make bad decisions about driving distracted—but what’s clear from all of the information we have is that driver distraction continues to be a major problem,” said Administrator Strickland. “We need to maintain our focus on this issue through education, laws, enforcement, and vehicle design to help keep drivers’ attention on the road.”

Among the findings, more than three-quarters of drivers report that they are willing to answer calls on all, most, or some trips. Drivers also report that they rarely consider traffic situations when deciding when to use their phone.

While most drivers said they are willing to answer a call and many will send a text while driving, almost all of these same drivers reported that they would feel very unsafe as a passenger if their driver was sending or receiving text messages.   Over one-third report that they would feel very unsafe if their driver was using a handheld phone.

Continuing Data Refinement

NHTSA’s adoption of the new “distraction-affected crash” measure for the 2010 FARS data is one step in a continuing effort to focus in on driver distraction and separate it from other issues. As part of its commitment to reduce the problem of distracted driving, NHTSA will continue to look for improved data sources. While police reports of serious crashes are an important source, they are limited by the evidence available to the officer. As a result, the agency is working to optimize information from crash reports by improving reporting forms and officer training. In addition, NHTSA will analyze new data on driver distraction from a new naturalistic study in which about 2,000 cars will be fitted with cameras and other equipment that will record driver behavior over a period of two years. Researchers will be able to use these data to associate driver behaviors with crash involvement. Data from this study will be available in 2014.