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Feds Consider Developing New Program to Measure Drivers’ Safety Performance

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Source: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32434
By Timothy Cama, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the July 15 print edition of Transport Topics.

Federal officials said they are considering developing a program that would use truck drivers’ violation and inspection data to determine whether they are safe and take corrective action against unsafe ones.

In a report to Congress in June, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not commit to implementing what it called a “driver safety fitness determination” but said that it would involve a nine-year process of studying, testing and going through the regulatory process before such a program could be launched.

Continue reading at: ttnews.com/articles/petemplate.aspx?storyid=32434

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Newly Launched Website Provides One-Stop Shop for Driver Fatigue Management

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Arlington, VA – The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today announced the launch of the North American Fatigue Management Program website, www.NAFMP.com.  The NAFMP provides a comprehensive approach to commercial driver fatigue management including:

  • Online fatigue management training for drivers, drivers’ families, carrier executives and managers, dispatchers and shippers/receivers;
  • Information on how to develop a corporate culture that facilitates reduced driver fatigue;
  • Information on sleep disorders screening and treatment;
  • Driver and trip scheduling information;
  • Information on Fatigue Management Technologies.

The NAFMP website also includes a Return-on-Investment calculator that allows motor carriers to estimate the cost-benefit of deploying the NAFMP in its entirety or select components in a customized program.

All of the NAFMP information and training is available on the website free of charge for interested parties. 

The NAFMP website represents the culmination of a decade of research, development and testing of a comprehensive fatigue management program.  Substantial financial and in-kind support was provided by the NAFMP partners including ATRI, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Transport Canada, Alberta Motor Transport Association, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety, Alberta Transportation, Alberta Workers Compensation Board, Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec and Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec.

ATRI will manage the NAFMP website on behalf of the NAFMP partners.

“It is rewarding to see ATRI’s 10-year involvement in the research and development of the NAFMP come to fruition,” commented ATRI President Rebecca Brewster.  “The NAFMP website will be a one-stop shop for carriers of all sizes to address the important issue of driver fatigue.”

ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

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New Research Identifies Significant Flaws in 34-Hour Restart Benefit Cost Calculations

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Arlington, VA - The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) today released the findings of its assessment of the Regulatory Impact Analysis used by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to justify changes to the 34-hour restart provision, which are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2013. 

The sweeping changes to the Hours-of-Service rules proposed by FMCSA include two new 34-hour restart provisions which limit use of the restart by truck drivers to one per week (168 hours) and a requirement that the restart include two overnight periods from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.  ATRI’s analysis quantifies a delta between FMCSA’s purported industry benefit and actual industry costs resulting from the restart changes of more than $322 million. 

Among the flaws in the FMCSA Regulatory Impact Analysis identified by ATRI are:

  • The reliance by FMCSA on a biased dataset of driver logs from carriers undergoing compliance reviews and safety audits, skewing the data toward drivers operating at the higher limits of available hours.
  • The assignment of industry costs associated with the change to only 15 percent of the driving population, ignoring operational changes and associated costs which are likely to be experienced by a much larger percentage of drivers.

ATRI’s analysis is based on industry survey data of over 2,000 commercial drivers and 500 motor carriers as well a detailed analysis of logbook data representing 40,000+ commercial drivers and over 1.4 million individual driver logs.

 “We know that the 34-hour restart changes are going to have a significant impact on our operations and across the entire supply chain,” commented Steve Niswander, vice president of Safety Policy and Regulatory Relations for Groendyke Transport and chairman of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee. “ATRI’s analysis clearly documents the costs that our fleet and fleets across the country are likely to experience when these changes take effect on July 1st.”

 A copy of this report is available from ATRI at www.atri-online.org

 ATRI is the trucking industry’s 501(c)(3) not-for-profit research organization.  It is engaged in critical research relating to freight transportation’s essential role in maintaining a safe, secure and efficient transportation system.

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Hours-Of-Service Changes Take Effect July 1st

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Source: ccjdigital.com/hours-of-service-changes-take-effect-july-1

The enforcement date for the hours-of-service changes made final in December 2011 is July 1, the date when carriers and drivers will begin being held accountable for complying with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s on-duty requirements.

The most notable change to the hours rules are that drivers are now limited to one 34-hour restart per week, and every restart must include two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods.

The rule has technically been effective since February of last year, but enforcement is scheduled to begin July 1. The American Trucking Associations is still fighting the rule in court, along with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, but prospects of the rule being overturned are slim. Mike Card, ATA chairman, even said in May at the Great West Fleet Executive Conference that ATA’s lawyers have advised them they’ll probably lose the case.

The rule does include, however, changes to what constitues on-duty time so that, so that drivers can count any time resting in a parked truck as off-duty. The amount of hours a driver can work in a week has been reduced, though, from 82 to 70.

The new rules also include penalties for carriers who allow drivers to “egregiously” violate HOS rules, with “egregious” defined as allowing a driver to drive more than three hours beyond the limit.

CCJ sister site Overdrive has a full report on the hours changes. Click here to see it.

Also, FMCSA has some informational charts on its website regarding the changes — Click here to see them.

Source: ccjdigital.com/hours-of-service-changes-take-effect-july-1

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Roadcheck 2013 Kicks Off Tuesday

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Source: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=32149

The three-day Roadcheck 2013 event kicks off Tuesday morning outside of Washington, where federal and state officials will begin intensive inspections of commercial trucks and buses.

The annual event, sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, will have a special focus on cargo securement this year, said CVSA, which represents law enforcement personnel who conduct truck safety inspections in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CVSA President Mark Savage and representatives from the Maryland State Police and the trucking industry will attend Roadcheck’s opening ceremony at FedEx Field in Landover, Md... continue reading

Source: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=32149

 

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VA Needs to Improve Program Management and Provide More Timely Information

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What GAO Found

Student veterans face many challenges pursuing higher education, and problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill create financial challenges that also affect veterans' academic success. Veterans already cope with challenges transitioning into college as nontraditional students (older or with family obligations) while they are readjusting to civilian life and potentially managing disabilities. However, veterans and school officials told GAO that delays in VA benefit payments create financial challenges for veterans that threaten their ability to pursue higher education. In fiscal year 2012, VA's average processing times for new Post-9/11 GI Bill applications (31 days) and benefit payments claims (17 days) were over a third higher than its performance targets. Processing times during the fall of 2012 were at times even longer. These delays led many veterans GAO spoke with to take on personal debt to cover their housing expenses or consider dropping out of school. VA has taken steps to reduce processing delays, and GAO previously made recommendations to address these issues. However, VA provides limited information about benefit processing timelines and payment policies to student veterans prior to enrollment, which can leave them unprepared to deal with these payment delays. In some cases, these delays also made it difficult for veterans to access other sources of federal grants and loans since some schools are reluctant to distribute this aid to students until after tuition and fee payments are received from VA.

VA provides limited direct support to veterans on campus, and schools are generally building their own veteran support services without any assistance from VA. VA has initiated the VetSuccess on Campus pilot, which provides veterans on 32 campuses with direct access to VA counselors who help them connect to services. VA also offers counseling and funding for academic tutoring to eligible student veterans. Some schools are developing services to meet the needs of these students, including creating new administrative offices to serve them. However, smaller schools have limited resources to devote to veteran services and may require different approaches to effectively meet veterans' needs. The Post-9/11 GI Bill has also sparked rapid growth in student veteran enrollments, and schools have reported concerns about the challenges of supporting this emerging population. VA recognizes the need to leverage partnerships with stakeholders to better support veterans, but has not sought opportunities to disseminate information about best practices for supporting veterans that would help schools more effectively build their own on campus services.

It is unclear the extent to which veterans are achieving successful academic outcomes, and VA lacks a plan for using student outcomes data from its new data collection efforts to improve its education programs. Current data on student veteran outcomes are outdated or incomplete. For example, existing studies from VA and the Department of Education (Education) do not capture the increase in beneficiaries under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. VA is coordinating with Education and the Department of Defense to develop additional outcome measures and has multiple efforts to collect new data on student veterans, including a study that will track Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries over the next 20 years. However, VA does not yet have a plan to use these data to improve program management. These data could provide VA with a tool for assessing the effectiveness of its education benefit programs in facilitating student veterans' academic success.

Why GAO Did This Study

VA provided nearly $10 billion in education benefits to almost 1 million veterans and beneficiaries in fiscal year 2011. The majority of these benefits were provided through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which in 2008 established what has since grown into VA's largest education program. GAO was asked to review VA's education programs. This report examines: (1) what challenges, if any, veterans face pursuing higher education; (2) how VA supports student veterans on campus; and (3) to what extent veterans are achieving successful academic outcomes and how VA uses data on student outcomes to improve its education benefit programs.

To address these topics, GAO reviewed existing government studies and scholarly research on veterans' educational challenges, services, and outcomes; reviewed VA's strategic planning documents; interviewed officials from VA, Education, higher education associations, and veteran service organizations; and conducted focus groups with student veterans and interviewed school officials at 11 postsecondary institutions.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that VA: (1) provide veterans with more information on payment timelines and policies; (2) work with schools to facilitate earlier access to other sources of federal financial aid; (3) promote opportunities to share best practices for serving student veterans; and (4) create a plan to use new data on student veteran outcomes to improve program management. VA agreed with GAO’s recommendations and noted a number of actions it is taking to address these issues.

For more information, contact Melissa Emrey-Arras at (617) 788-0534 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Recommendations for Executive Action

Recommendation: To improve VA's administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs and help veterans achieve their education goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop materials or processes to inform student veterans about education benefits before they enroll in school, including expected payment timelines, housing allowance policies, and other financial resources such as the availability of grants and loans provided by Education. For example, VA could provide veterans with current information on expected processing times when they submit their original applications for VA education benefits, and more clearly highlight in online and printed resources VA's housing allowance policies and the availability of federal grants and loans to help veterans financially prepare for school breaks.

Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

Status: Review Pending

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: To improve VA's administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs and help veterans achieve their education goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should work with postsecondary schools to identify the types of information that would help facilitate more timely access to other sources of federal financial aid during the VA benefit processing period.

Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

Status: Review Pending

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: To improve VA's administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs and help veterans achieve their education goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should leverage the experience and best practices of those schools and organizations that are currently providing support services to student veterans, for example, by hosting an online forum or raising awareness of existing resources from higher education associations and veteran service organizations.

Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

Status: Review Pending

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Recommendation: To improve VA's administration of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs and help veterans achieve their education goals, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop a plan for using new sources of data on student veteran outcomes as they become available to improve program management and help student veterans achieve their academic goals.

Agency Affected: Department of Veterans Affairs

Status: Review Pending

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

 

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Editorial - Improving Truck Safety Without A Single, Additional Regulation

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by Dave Osiecki
Senior Vice President for Policy & Regulatory Affairs
The American Trucking Associations

Most have heard the outcome of MAP-21, the latest highway law, for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.  FMCSA has said repeatedly that MAP-21 requires it to complete 29 new safety regulations within 27 months.   FMCSA will be challenged to complete them within that timeframe.  And, no matter when they do, the trucking industry will be challenged to comply with another set of new safety rules.  What if I told you, though, that truck safety could be significantly improved without a single, additional regulation, but rather with a single change to the longstanding Federal-State Inspection program known as MCSAP (the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program commonly referred to by its acronym)?  Allow me to briefly describe how this is possible.  

Before doing so, let’s start with a simple quiz.  Assume for a minute you were fortunate enough to inherit a whopping $3.5 million from a wealthy Uncle…let’s call him Charlie.  In learning this great news, you also discover that old Uncle Charlie had this fortune in two investments with the same investment firm--$3.0 million in an investment with a 1% guaranteed rate of return; and $500,000 in an investment with a 3% guaranteed rate of return.  Other than questioning your generous Uncle’s investment IQ, what would you do with these investments?  The answer’s simple, right?  You’d quickly move the $3.0 million into the 3% guaranteed investment to maximize your return.  If not, you may want to stop reading here.  And, yes, I realize some of you are saying you’d find a different investment in order to find a guaranteed 6 or 7% return, and a small portion of you are saying ‘let’s go to Vegas baby.” But humor me and read on…

So what does this quiz have to do with more truck safety without more regulations?  A great deal, because the numbers I chose above (3.0 million and 500,000, and the 3 to 1 difference in the rate of return), are the 2012 numbers from the MCSAP program.  Under MCSAP in 2012, FMCSA funded the 50 States to perform a total of about 3.0 million Roadside Inspections of trucks and drivers, and further funded the States to conduct about 500,000 Traffic Enforcement stops of truck drivers operating unsafely (e.g., speeding, unsafe lane change, etc.) which then triggered some type of limited inspection of either the driver’s paperwork or the truck.  So, in 2012, the number of FMCSA-funded Roadside Inspections far outpaced the number of Traffic Enforcement stops.

Yet, FMCSA’s own analysis published in April 2011 (and recently updated in April 2013) on the safety effectiveness of these two MCSAP enforcement interventions (Roadside Inspections and Traffic Enforcement stops coupled with a limited inspection) demonstrates that the benefits (i.e., the rate of return) are 3 to 1 in favor of Traffic Enforcement stops coupled with a limited inspection (called simply “Traffic Enforcement” for the remainder of this piece).  In other words, according to FMCSA, Traffic Enforcement prevents about three times more truck crashes (and saves 3 times more lives) than do Roadside Inspections (as measured on a per 1,000 interventions basis).

So, let’s go back to the Uncle Charlie scenario for a moment.  If you inherited the MCSAP program and discovered it was investing in 3.0 million Roadside Inspections with a guaranteed safety return of 1%, and 500,000 Traffic Enforcement stops with a guaranteed safety return of 3%, what would you do?  Pretty simple, right?  

Take a look at the following data from the Intervention Effectiveness table contained FMCSA’s 2011 data-driven analysis[1]

Benefits Associated with Various Activities

Total Benefits

U.S.

Benefits per

1,000

Interventions U.S.

Crashes Avoided-Roadside Inspection

8,493

3.64

Crashes Avoided-Traffic Enforcement

9,555

13.14

Total

18,048

(TE to RI ratio is 3.60 to 1)

Injuries Avoided-Roadside Inspection

5,474

2.34

Injuries Avoided-Traffic Enforcement

6,159

8.47

Total

11,633

(TE to RI ratio is 3.61 to 1)

Lives Saved-Roadside Inspection

321

0.14

Lives Saved-Traffic Enforcement

362

0.50

 

 

(TE to RI ratio is 3.57 to 1)

(TE to RI ratios in table above were added by ATA)

The high water mark for MCSAP Traffic Enforcement interventions was in 2006 at 900,000.  That number dropped by more than 43% to only 510,000 in 2012, in favor of more Roadside Inspections (which went from 2.3 million in 2006 to just over 3 million in 2012).[2]   This leads to a reasonable question—why is FMCSA investing MCSAP dollars in a manner that, by its own data-driven analysis (conducted under the Government Performance & Results Act requirements for “resource allocation” purposes), is far less effective at truck crash prevention than it could be?   

The answer is more complicated than shifting from one ‘investment’ to the other as in the Uncle Charlie scenario.  The answer lies in a common challenge facing many federal programs.  They quickly develop a sincere, well-meaning constituency which becomes vested in the program as it was originally developed.  The longer the program goes on, the more vested the constituency becomes, and the more difficult it is to change.  This is the case even when it becomes clear that data-driven change would result in better outcomes.  In this case, the better outcome is greater truck and highway safety through more effective allocation of resources.  That is, more Traffic Enforcement activity aimed at unsafe drivers, which will also generate data to target motor carriers who facilitate or encourage unsafe behavior.

I am a strong advocate for MCSAP.  It’s been a success story, and has made a positive contribution to driver and truck safety since it began almost 30 years ago.  I am also a strong advocate for bringing data-driven change to MCSAP to bring more balance to the interventions in order to make it a far more effective program for the benefit of professional drivers, the industry, the motoring public, and highway safety.  And, this positive safety change can be accomplished without a single, additional regulation.



[1] See Table 5 in FMCSA’s April 2011 “Intervention Effectiveness” report at  http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/research-technology/report/Intervention-2007.pdf