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OOIDA: New driver training standards needed for real road safety

Statistically, fatigue almost never is the cause of truck-related crashes and yet the data is grossly exaggerated to 30 or more percent, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

The Trucker News Services


GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has been pushing federal agencies for years to implement minimum, behind-the-wheel training standards for new truck drivers, yet no such regulations exist today and an association executive says regulators are not putting an emphasis on an area that will make trucking safer.

"Instead of relying on technology and making misguided, Hours of Service regulations changes, the focus should instead be on training standards for entry-level drivers," OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. "Despite orders from Congress in 1991, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has still not made training new drivers a priority."

The FMCSA revised HOS regulations about a year ago, and many in the industry have criticized the rationale behind the changes and question how much they will reduce truck crashes. The association receives many complaints from drivers that the changes have instead meant unintended consequences such as more time on the road and less time at home, Spencer said.

Fatigue is often cited as the reason for making such regulatory changes. But OOIDA disagrees with how the data is represented.

"Statistically, fatigue almost never is the cause of truck-related crashes and yet the data is grossly exaggerated to 30 or more percent," Spencer said.

According to statistics from FMCSA, fatigue is a factor in 1.8 percent of truck crashes and the percentage of fatal crashes involving trucks is about 10 percent. According to FMCSA, the fault of truck-related crashes falls mostly on passenger vehicle drivers. The 30 percent statistic on fatigue that is often cited in news articles is debunked in comments by the original report's author.

"Truckers are not causing the majority of highway crashes, but are unfairly blamed," said Spencer. "Most are doing their best to drive safely as hard-working individuals and should be recognized for the sacrifices they make and the contribution they make to the economy."

OOIDA has a website dedicated to highway safety, www.TruckersForSafety.com, and also participates in the Trucking Moves America Forward campaign.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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