Editor’s Page – August/September 2019

D.C., we’ve got a problem

August-September 2019

Jami Jones

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As we were heading to press, the 50th anniversary of the moon landing was all over the news. Full disclosure, I’m a NASA nerd. I took my kids to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral to see the last night launch of the space shuttle mission. We had a blast and learned a lot about our space endeavors.

As cool as Apollo 11 was, I still am in awe of the Apollo 13 mission and how what had a 99.9% chance of turning out deadly turned into one of the space mission’s finest examples of brainpower, tenacity and the will to succeed.

With a nod and apologies to the Apollo 13 space mission, the misquoted statement about the disaster on the Apollo 13 space mission is very appropriate in summing up trucking today.

For clarity, Jim Swigert said, “Houston, we had a problem” when Apollo 13 had an electrical issue that led to the mission being scrubbed. The past tense nature of the accurate quote doesn’t hit the mark on the state of trucking. So, I’m sticking with the frequently misquoted version of “we’ve got a problem.”

First, we need to give props to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for its commitment to retool the hours-of-service regulations. We had hoped beyond hope that the proposal would have been released publicly before we went to press. Alas, that was not the case.

Associate Editor Mark Schremmer has been tracking every word reported on hours of service leading up to the big reveal of the notice of proposed rulemaking. He brings you the scuttlebutt on Page 24.

Much like the Apollo 13 mission, that’s about the end of the good news. D.C., we’ve got problems and a lot of them.

One “monstrous” problem for many, many truckers is detention time. Not only is it inefficient in the delivery of goods, but it causes compliance issues with hours of service, exacerbates the parking problems and, most importantly, costs truckers thousands of dollars each month. Schremmer takes on detention time starting on Page 20.

Looking at FMCSA’s self-proclaimed mission of being about safety, we turn to the continued overregulation of trucking and the unintended consequence of increased crash rates. In “Wrong direction,” Schremmer dissects OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer’s recent testimony that highlights just how bad the problem is. Check it out on Page 22.

Underscoring the dangers of ill-conceived regulations, Staff Writer Tyson Fisher got ahold of the preliminary crash stats for 2018. Tyson and I are kindred spirits in our love for numbers and hard facts.

We’ve both been tracking crashes since the electronic logging mandate went into place in late 2017. While we won’t have final 2018 crash stats for another year, the prelim numbers say exactly what we’ve been seeing: there is an increase in crashes since ELDs became mandatory.

I let him have the pure, unadulterated joy of bringing you the hard facts. His article starts on Page 26. On a side note, hang on to that one. It will come in handy the next time you talk to your lawmaker.

That’s the current state of trucking. And, it’s not looking like it’s getting better anytime soon if truckers don’t rally behind OOIDA’s efforts to smack down some very dangerous proposed regs facing trucking.

Hair testing guidelines have been sent to the White House for review. The science isn’t behind hair testing for many, many reasons. Schremmer brings you the latest on that proposal on Page 28.

Digital Content Editor Greg Grisolano is back on the speed limiter beat. Yep, that’s right speed limiters are being proposed again. Read up on Page 29 and then call your lawmaker in opposition.

It’s not all doom and gloom, and we can rise up and land this mission safely. But it’s going to take an army of truckers, pulling in the same direction. It worked on getting a shift toward HOS reform. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t do the same on these other issues.

We can turn this ship around. LL

Jami Jones

Jami Jones has been in journalism since 1991 – focused on the trucking industry since 2000. Whether judging Shell SuperRigs or writing hard-hitting analyses, she covers trucking from lug nuts to legislation – always with the trucker in mind.