The sobering reality of regulations

December 2019/January 2020

Jami Jones

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There’s a story in this issue that needs every word read and digested. It’s the single most sobering reality that truckers face every single day on the road.

In 2018, we lost 885 trucking souls in truck-involved crashes. To make matters worse, the number of truckers losing their lives went up. We predicted that it would with the implementation of the electronic logging mandate. We’ve never wished harder to be proven wrong, but we weren’t. There were more crashes, and more truckers died.

The annual report never goes into fault. So, we’ll stick with what we know. Depending on the study you look at, roughly 80% of truck-involved crashes are not the fault of the truck driver. That’s little solace to those whose trucking loved ones didn’t come home.

We need to embrace that stat and scream it from the rooftops and get lawmakers to understand it. We need them to understand that their attempts at making things safer clearly are not working.

Staff Writer Tyson Fisher takes a deep dive into that heart-breaking statistic and the forces causing the problems, starting on Page 20.

Of course, one of the things that will clearly help reduce crashes is to build in flexibility to the hours-of-service regulations. For those of us who have been around trucking and regulations for a while, let me tell you, this rulemaking has felt like a full-on sprint. That’s good news. Even better news is it looks like (fingers crossed) meaningful reform is on the horizon.

So now we wait. FMCSA is poised to release a final rule on hours of service in the upcoming months. Associate Editor Mark Schremmer recaps the news on hours-of-service reform on Page 24.

Every last one of you, whether you are a driver or fleet owner, must stop and read Page 26. Talk about a game-changer and one with new responsibilities on drivers and fleets. Welcome to the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. Schremmer teamed up with the experts in OOIDA’s drug and alcohol testing consortium service to boil down the new program and bring you need-to-know info. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.

How about some good news? How about some good news on the parking front? Yeah, you read that right.

In this issue’s installment of The Parking Zone, Tyson ferreted out some good news on the trucking realm. It’s not necessarily an easy task. Aside from the big three truck stops adding some parking capacity, good news is pretty slim regularly. I won’t steal the news here other than to say I’d like to shake their hands. Check it out on Page 42.

It’s not uncommon at the end of the year for those of us in the news business to look back and reflect on the big stories of the year. We do that, sort of. Actually, we asked Staff Writer Wendy Parker to do that. She picked through her Strange Things and Filthy Lies for the year and brought us her favorites for one more chuckle. You can check that out on Page 92.

As funny as those are, my personal favorite is on Page 94. I love a good pun as much as the next word nerd, but this one is a standout.

Finally, some well wishes.

Land Line’s long-time contributing field editor, Suzanne Stempinski, is packing away the suitcase. Since leaving her full-time team driving gig behind, where she racked up a million or so safe miles with her husband, Bob, she’s been racking up frequent flier miles for Land Line.

Suzanne has traveled all over the place for Land Line for nearly 20 years. She has test driven every new truck offered to market, knows more about show trucks and show truckers than most of us ever will and always found a delightful way to tell a story.

The time has come for her to spend more time at home and less on the road. Boy, are we going to miss her, but we do wish her and Bob all the best. LL

 

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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.