Innovation frequently move faster than government. Whether it is the Federal Aviation Administration blocking commercial use of drones or the Federal Communications Commission’s sluggish action on net neutrality, technology is moving at a blistering pace while the government spends more money studying and debating regulations. Regardless of how self-driving trucks may impact jobs and the economy, we can be sure the jobs of lobbyist and politicians are secure.
ABI Research recently released a report that finds federal legislation has a long way to go before self-driving vehicles or caravanning technology for the trucking industry advances much further. Not surprisingly, liability concerns prevent many manufacturers from vigorously pursuing autonomous vehicles. Many of the same companies are currently involved in litigation about their vehicles and in the middle of massive recalls.
In day-to-day driving situations, we humans are constantly making micro-decisions to avoid potential accidents and respond to unexpected situations. While the reaction time of self-driving trucks may be faster than humans and the computer not distracted by drinking coffee or a recent argument with its spouse, there is no computer capable of our level of decision making and abstract thought, nor is there one in the foreseeable future. When there is a driving situation that calls for deductive reasoning, the computer can not outperform humans.
U.S. regulators are already pumping the brakes on self-driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has told states they can’t allow fully self-driving cars on the highways, like those being tested by Google, other than for testing. The 2014 Mercedes Benz S-Class sedan is capable of what industry analyst call “70 percent autonomous driving.” Though European countries have fewer restrictions, U.S. regulations will not let auto manufacturers go much further.
Too much reliance on technology will cause a driver’s skills to atrophy. Any vehicle driving system needs to work in conjunction with its human counterpart to provide the safest experience.
Visit TruckerToTrucker.com for the latest trucking news and upcoming regulations.
Congratulations to April Varner-Chattman
April is the 2014 Fall winner of the $1000 Trucker to Trucker Scholarship Award.
She plans to attend Milwaukee Area Technical College in February 2015. MATC offers a 10-week Truck Driving program where they prepare their students for entry into the truck driving industry. Trained in both heavy trucks and tractor-trailer operation, MATC grads have the opportunity to earn their Class A or B Commercial Driver’s License and begin their career as local or over-the-road drivers.
April impressed the scholarship committee with her essay and focus on beginning a new career. We know she will be a big success in the future. Trucker to Trucker is very happy to support future driving professionals like her with a $1000 scholarship towards tuition and books.
Next Scholarship Opportunity – Spring 2015
Each year Trucker to Trucker offers a Spring and a Fall scholarship to future commercial drivers. If you or someone you knows would like to start a new career in transportation, then visit our scholarship page and fill out the short online application.
Despite setbacks in the struggle, truckers continue to fight for better safety regulations. The changes to trucking laws have negatively impacted productivity by at least 3 to 5 percent, according to the American Trucking Association—without promising any real solution for driver fatigue.
The ATA and other groups want to repeal certain aspects of the DOT’s latest regulations. Most specifically:
- The 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rule. The requirement for two consecutive 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. off periods does not properly ensure safety and instead presents a logistics nightmare.
- CSA safety scores. The DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration uses numbers that can be inaccurate and misleading. These scores must be revised so the public gets the most accurate information.
More trucks are on the road during daytime, including rush hour traffic, because regulations keep many trucks off the road between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. That endangers everyone.
In fact, the rules put more pressure on drivers to get in their mileage within the legal hours. Nobody should want truckers to feel rushed and stressed while driving.
Truckers have reason to look forward to trucking laws getting fixed. The FMCSA has acknowledged some negative consequences of the laws, although they have not taken action swiftly.
Also, an amendment by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), which would have repealed much of the new regulation, was approved by the Senate before ultimately being nixed. That was during a time of negative publicity because of a Walmart truck crash that killed one person and injured celebrity Tracy Morgan.
Truckers continue to push for better safety scores and a better method of preventing driver fatigue. The current rules are not working, but it will take more efforts to get the DOT to reevaluate and do the right thing.
The Georgia mom of two teenage girls is doing everything she can to make sure other parents never have to live through the tragedy she is currently facing.
In May of 2013, Marianne Karth was driving on the highway with her daughters, seventeen-year-old AnnaLeah and thirteen-year-old Mary. Suddenly, her car was slammed from behind by a tractor trailer, which cause the car to spin around and get pinned under another truck’s trailer. AnnaLeah died at the scene of the accident, and Mary died later on at the hospital.
So many factors play a part in these types of accidents. Sometimes, motorists are at fault. Many of them stop too quickly on the highway, or they participate in distracted driving activities like talking on their cell phones or texting. Other times, the trucker or the carrier is at fault. Carriers will frequently place high demands on their drivers to meet deadlines, and it frequently puts other motorists in harm’s way. Long driving hours also often results in fatigue for drivers, which can mean truckers make poor driving decisions or even fall asleep at the wheel.
Regardless of the reasons behind these types of accidents, the proper steps must be taken to ensure that all motorists and their passengers remain safe on the road. Trucking accidents occur far too often; the most recently publicized ones being Tracey Morgan and the Texas community college softball team.
While Marianne Karth doesn’t have the fame or notoriety that these other victims have, she is determined to raise awareness about the need for trucking legislation that will prevent as many of these accidents from happening as possible.
What are your thoughts on these types of accidents? Do you have suggestions that might prevent them from happening? We’d love to hear from you!
We do our best to keep you updated on everything that’s going on in the world of trucking. For more news on trucking legislation, be sure to check www.truckertotrucker.com.
Each year, the American Transportation Research Institute issues a list of the most critical issues for truckers. Some indicate a need for change in trucking legislation, while others are demonstrative of how much trucking legislation has improved the industry. Today, we’d like to cover some of the top issues truckers are facing in 2014.
In July 2013, new legislation was put in place that would limit the amount of time a trucker could be behind the wheel. Fatigue was a major concern, but it seems as though the loss of hours has created problems with productivity. Drivers are required to have a thirty-four hour restart at the end of each week, which not only puts them back on the road during rush hour, but it’s speculated that it has resulted in a loss of almost $4 billion dollars a year for the trucking industry too.
While no one can be sure why there is a such a shortage of drivers, this is a serious problem for many carriers. Most of them aren’t able to hire enough drivers, which has resulted in a decrease in productivity as well. Steps are being taken to help, including new programs for potential drivers and increased benefits. As it turns out, the demand for goods is increasing, which is good news for a country that once had a struggling economy. However, it’s difficult for carriers to meet the level of demand.
Finally, driver retention was cited as a serious problem among carriers, which causes problems for truckers as well. Several carriers have made significant changes in their salary and benefits packages, which is pulling drivers away. While this is an excellent way to attract new, qualified drivers, it’s putting a strain on the trucking industry as a whole.
What are some of the issues you feel are most critical? Let us know! And check back often for more trucking news right here at www.truckertotrucker.com.