FMCSA Loads Safety Summit With Advocates for ELDs, Speed Limiters, Insurance Increases

Washington D.C. – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is set to host its first annual Truck Safety Summit on Wednesday, August 5, so let’s take a look at what you should expect.

The Summit was initially scheduled for March of this year but had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 national emergency.

It will now take place in a virtual format on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT.




 

What Is It?

In a statement late last week, the Agency said the goal of the summit is to “create a collaborative dialogue between FMCSA, industry, law enforcement, and safety advocates to help improve safety for all Americans.”

Specifically, the FMCSA said, “This event will feature an in-depth discussion regarding all aspects of truck safety, the latest safety data, best practices for safety, and emerging technologies.”

The Summit will feature eight sessions and include more than two dozen panelists and speakers.

 Why Now?

The Agency says the Summit is being conducted in response to alarming data released last fall by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing trucker crash deaths rose to a 30-year high in 2018.

Data released by NHTSA earlier this year indicates the problem is only worsening as trucker crash deaths are expected to rise even higher when the final numbers for 2019 are released later this fall.




 

Debate Over ELD Mandate?

The concerning rise in trucker crash deaths happen to coincide with the full implementation and enforcement of the controversial electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate.

In fact, a bombshell academic study on the topic released in February of 2019 concluded crashes involving commercial big rigs actually increased after the implementation of the mandate.

Researchers at Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business found that while crashes among mega carrier trucks decreased, crashes among independent owner-operators increased as much as 3.5% and 1.8% for carriers with two to six trucks.

When all the data from large carriers, small carriers and independent owner-operators was factored together, researchers concluded, “these numbers do not point to any obvious reduction in accidents due to the ELD mandate, and in some cases suggest a possible increase in accidents for those carriers most affected by the mandate.”




 

So, should Truck Safety Summit attendees expect a robust debate on the impacts to safety of the ELD mandate?

Any objective analysis of the invited panelist list indicates such a balanced debate is not likely.

Transportation Nation Network (TNN) has only identified two panelists of the more than two dozen invited speakers who are critics of the mandate.

FMCSA Loads Summit With Advocates of ELD Mandate, Speed Limiters, and Insurance Increases

Attendees of the Truck Safety Summit will likely be fed a heavy dose of a long wish list of mega carrier-backed safety solutions.

Despite the fact the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) 2020 Trucking Trends report indicated 97.4% of motor carriers operate 20 trucks or fewer, and 91.3% of fleets operate six or fewer trucks, the FMCSA packed the panels with mega carrier executives.

In fact, a significant percentage of the invited panelists are from member or partner companies of the Trucking Alliance.




 

The Trucking Alliance was founded in-part out of frustration among some mega carrier executives that the American Trucking Associations (ATA) was not sufficiently progressive enough in its policy positions or advocacy for certain safety measures.

According to its website, the Trucking Alliance is pushing for:

1) The installation of ELDs in ALL large commercial trucks,

2) Speed limiters to be mandated in ALL big rigs and set to a maximum truck speed limit of 65 mph, or 70 mph with certain safety technologies,

3) Motor carriers to be required to maintain property and liability insurance greater than the federal minimum level, “so that victims of large truck crashes can be fairly compensated for medical and other expenses,” and

4) The adoption of advanced drivers assistance systems (ADAS) such as lane departure warning systems, forward collision mitigation systems, automatic emergency braking (AEB), and both forward-facing and in-cab-facing camera monitoring systems.

Representatives of Trucking Alliance member companies scheduled to appear at the Summit include: Thomas DiSalvi, Schneider National, Inc.; Dean Newell, Maverick; Brett Sant, Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings, Inc.; Greer Woodruff, JB Hunt; and Richard Beyer, Bendix, to name a few.

 

Another invited panelist is Steve Owings, co-founder of Road Safe America (RSA).

RSA is also a strong proponent of the measures mentioned above supported by the Trucking Alliance.

Additionally, RSA is on the front line of the ongoing fight in Congress to require front and side underride guards on all commercial big rigs.

Other invited panelists include: Chris Spear, president of the ATA; Dan Furth, National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC); Jamie Maus, Werner; and Dave Edmondson, J&M Truck Group.

How Many Truckers?

TNN has identified three invited panelists with distinguished careers actually driving a big rig, and they are: Lewie Pugh, Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA), Ingrid Brown, Rollin’ B, LLC; and Steve Fields, YRCW.

Both Pugh and Brown are strong opponents of mandating ELDs and speed limiters, as well as increasing motor carriers’ minimum insurance liability coverage and requiring front and side underride guards.




 

Brown is a board member of the United States Transportation Alliance (USTA) and Women in Trucking Association (WIT) and tells TNN she is thankful the Agency invited her to speak out on behalf of America’s small business truckers.

“We wanted a seat at the table, but I never thought it would be me,” she said.


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Brown says she was told FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen “hand-picked” each of the panelists for the event.

Based on her more than 4 million safe miles of professional driving experience, Brown says she intends to make one thing very clear: “It’s a driver that makes a company safe. It’s not a company that makes a driver safe and people forget that. Data is not worth a hill of beans to me when I’m out here and a car cuts me off.”

“Brief Public Comment Period” 

The final session of the day will be what the Agency is describing as a “brief public comment period.”

“All persons wishing to speak must register for the Open Form Session in advance,” the Agency said. “Please keep public comments short and succinct.”




 

Those wishing to submit longer written comments, data or analysis on trucking safety can do so HERE.

To attend any of the sessions you must pre-register for each and you can do so by clicking HERE.

 


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