Monday, December 26, 2005

The Big Trucks in the Next Lane

Federal Enforcement Efforts Have Been Stronger Since 2000, but Oversight of State Grants Needs Improvement

About 5,000 people die and more than 120,000 are injured each year from crashes involving large trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has several enforcement programs to improve truck safety and funds similar enforcement programs in states through its Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP). Following concern by Congress and others in 1999 that FMCSA├é’s enforcement approach was ineffective, the agency committed to take stronger actions.

Most of Us drive the Highways and Interstate of this Country relatively daily. We find Ourselves side by side, or in front or behind the Big Rigs constantly. They are always pushing the Speed limit, because their Pay comes in ton-miles of haulage, and faster delivery means higher Pay--as new loads can be hauled. How safe are the large Trucks?

The Answer makes sense: Real Safe--if you are not pushing it. Several elements can consistently maintain Safety. (FMCSA) will not focus on these elements, though, as it would increase freight charges. A quick list can be given:

1) No Driver should drive longer than 3 hours at a time, and no more than 9 hours per day.
2) No Driver should drive any Road systems with which he is unfamiliar. Drivers should be licensed for Routes, not just ability to drive a Rig.
3) No Driver should be allowed to drive distances greater than 1000 miles from his origin base. Drivers cannot remember Route conditions under longer Drives, it will shorten Drivers' Away time with fewer forced long drives, and actually lessen Driver compulsion for high speed. The Downside lay in Trailer surrender for long hauls, but trailers should be centrally-owned and maintained by Distribution Centers for Profit.
4) Mechanical Truck Boxes should record Fuel mileage as well as driving times, and Fines issued for excessive Fuel consumption and/or Exhaust emissions. This would improve Overall upkeep by around 12%, with Safety issues being dealt with in the Garage.
5) Drivers should be prohibited from insuring themselves, Insurance regulated and paid by the Shippers at a ton-mile rate; Insurance companies can insist specific Drivers must be relicensed or prohibited from Driving, due to exhibited Carelessness.

These are costly Initiatives, but when introducing and Accounting Accident Costs currently paid by all American Drivers, they are actually cheaper than the current system of irresponsible noncompliance with Safety measures. lgl

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