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In this episode we cover…

– 2 flatbed carriers flatline
– Bail hearing in Colorado crash
– Amazon gets in the trucking biz
– Trucker road rages with wasp spray

All this and more news along with our Cat Scale Rig of the Week on this edition of The Trucker News Channel.

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Digital Edition

The Trucker Newspaper – May 15, 2019 Digital Edition



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FMCSA wants comments on possible 2nd pilot program for 18- to 20-year-olds



FMCSA requests comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for a second pilot program for younger drivers. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Tuesday said it is seeking public comment on a potential pilot program that would allow drivers ages 18-20 to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce.

“Commercial trucks and buses are essential to a thriving national economy, and the department wants to ensure the public has an opportunity to comment on this important potential change,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

Drivers ages 18-20 may currently only operate CMVs in intrastate commerce.

In July 2018, USDOT announced the details of the Commercial Driver Pilot Program required under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which allows certain 18- to 20-year-olds with military training to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

Tuesday’s action requests comments on a second pilot program to allow non-military drivers ages 18-20 to operate CMVs in interstate commerce.

FMCSA requests comments on the training, qualifications, driving limitations, and vehicle safety systems that FMCSA should consider in developing options or approaches for a second pilot program for younger drivers.

“We want input from the public on efforts that offer the potential to create more jobs in the commercial motor vehicle industry, while maintaining the highest level of safety.  We encourage all CMV stakeholders to submit comments on a potential interstate pilot program for younger drivers,” said FMCSA Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

Support for a pilot program among the general population dates back to October 2, 200, when the Truckload Carriers Association, petitioned the FMCSA to conduct a younger driver pilot program.

Motor carriers, truck driver training schools, a trade association and an insurance company joined in the petition asking FMCSA to authorize a pilot program to determine if CMV drivers under age 21 could operate CMVs safely in interstate commerce.

The petitioners said that this pilot would address the shortage of CMV drivers in the trucking industry. The petitioners also asserted that recruiting young persons as truck drivers would be easier if they could be approached immediately after graduation from high school.

In February 2001, the FMCSA published a notice requesting comments on the TCA petition and received 1,600 comments with more than 90 percent opposed, most of the basis that  individuals under 21 lacked the maturity and judgment to operate a commercial motor vehicle and on June 9, 2003, the FMCSA denied the petition.

TCA still strongly supports a pilot program, said David Heller, vice president of government affairs at TCA.

His association believes the pilot study is crucial in determining the safety performance of younger drivers.

“If you look at interstate commerce, I can stand on top of TCA’s roof and look into D.C. and turn 90 degrees and look into Maryland, but if I’m a younger driver, I can’t drive into those areas,” Heller said, “but I can drive into the far southwest corner of Virginia, which in and of itself a long haul. In saying that, what is truly the line of demarcation. So once and for all let’s glean data to show and prove whether they can be safe. This is an effort to collect the data that can verify whether these drivers are as safe or safer in those magical words that truly matter. As safe or safer than their seasoned counterparts.”

Should in the end drivers under 21 be allowed to drive interstate, there would be a whole new demographic from which carriers could recruit.

Just because a new demographic opens up, it doesn’t mean carriers would naturally recruit from that pool, Heller said.  recruit from that pool. \

“There are a lot of different things that go into that equation, insurance for one, that certainly play a major role in whether carriers will recruit from that demographic,” he said. “And just because we get the new demographic doesn’t mean they are going to like trucking.”

The American Trucking Association also supports the pilot program.

“ATA supports FMCSA’s efforts to expand on its current work examining younger commercial drivers,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “Right now, 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old drivers are driving trucks in the United States.  What these pilot programs will do is set out a path for these drivers to fully participate in our industry by allowing them to drive interstate.

“Allowing younger drivers, who are already moving goods intrastate, to drive interstate is a common sense step that has support not just from the trucking industry, but from a broad coalition,” Spear said. “Between FMCSA’s opposed pilot project and the bipartisan support for the Drive SAFE Act in Congress, we hope we will soon create a path for more young people to fully participate in our industry.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in opposition to the second pilot program.

“Rather than developing ways to allow more teenagers behind the wheel of commercial trucks, the federal government should be taking steps to reverse the incessantly high driver turnover rate, which remains above 90 percent among large truckload carriers,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “Efforts should focus on improving the industry instead of trying to hire more cheap labor.”

Spencer said OOIDA contends that younger drivers – especially teenagers – generally lack the maturity and experience to operate a CMV at the safest levels. Research has consistently shown that CMV drivers under 21 are more likely to be involved in crashes.

“Launching this pilot program would go against FMCSA’s goal of improving highway safety,” Spencer said. “The agency should not be used as a tool for large motor carriers to expand their driver pool instead of fixing the problems that have led to their extremely high turnover rates. “If highway safety is the priority, the age should go up, not down. Instead of efforts to entice the least experienced, the focus should be hiring and retaining the most experienced drivers, not expanding the funnel of driver churn.”


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Just about everyone is in favor of safety, but opinions vary on how to achieve it



There are reports aplenty that cross our desk every day, some good, some bad, some just plain stupid.

The most recent, and this is one of the good ones, finds that American motorists “strongly support” a broad array of safety measures, from reducing local street speed limits and building more roundabout intersections to stricter seatbelt enforcement efforts.

The report was based on a survey of 2,000 U.S. motorists conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Road to Zero Coalition.

The Road to Zero Coalition is managed by the National Safety Council and has issued a roadmap to end roadway deaths in the U.S. by 2050.

There are almost 900 members of the coalition, the first time so many organizations have collaborated to put forth a plan to address motor vehicle fatalities, which recently increased after years of decline.

(As a footnote, the NORC was established in 1941 as the National Opinion Research Center, hence the name NORC).

The NORC report, titled “Underutilized Strategies in Traffic Safety: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey,” found support for a variety of motor vehicle safety initiatives.

They are listed below with the percentage of survey respondents who named the initiative, along with some personal comments from yours truly:

  • Increasing the use of sobriety checkpoints to discourage impaired driving (65%). We most often hear of sobriety checkpoints during the Christmas-New Year time frame, but here in Little Rock, the bars are full every weekend.
  • Deployment of more speed and red-light cameras to discourage reckless driving (60%). Our office window overlooks a stoplight at the intersection of the Interstate 630 exit and University Avenue, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares. Most of the time, when the light turns red for University Avenue traffic, two or three cars go through the red light.
  • Reducing local speed limits by 5 miles per hour (69%). The odds of lower speed limits slowing down traffic are about as good as winning the lottery.
  • Alcohol ignition locks for people who have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (83 %). Good idea, given the lack of sobriety checkpoints.
  • Saliva screening to prevent drugged driving (74%).
  • Stricter seat belt law enforcement (82%). We think drivers are pretty good about buckling up. We seldom see anyone not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Requiring cars to have seat belt reminder chimes (70%). Most do, and they are quick to chime when someone tries to drive unbuckled.
  • Passing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws (86%). Cyclists riding without a helmet have much, much better odds of being severely injured or killed than they have of winning the lottery.
  • Replacing dangerous intersections with roundabouts (73%). We despise roundabouts, especially installed at an intersection where a stop sign would work just as well. Here in Little Rock, city fathers use roundabouts to display some of the most horrid metal artwork we’ve ever seen.
  • Installing rumble strips on more roads (90%). A nuisance, especially like the ones in Little Rock that have been installed 10 feet from a stop sign.

The only question on which those motorists polled were totally divided was lowering the blood alcohol limit to .05 in their state.

Yet 56 percent of the drivers participating in the survey said they would support such a lower limit if the penalty involved fines and the suspension of one’s license rather than criminal charges.

We think legislators should listen to doctors for advice about how low to set the limit.

We say, the lower the better, especially since there are so few sobriety check points.

The survey also found that drivers were taking advantage of ridesharing services to avoid drinking and driving as 60 percent of those who said they’d used a ride sharing service in the past year said they had done so at least once to avoid drinking and driving.

“The results of this poll are clear: Safe roads are a priority for Americans, and they support ideas that encourage everyone to slow down and avoid impaired driving. Given the research available, this makes perfect sense,” said James Fell, a principal research scientist at NORC at the University of Chicago, in a statement. “Drivers are also now taking the extra step to do something about making our roads safer as evidenced by their use of ridesharing apps to get home safely.”

If you want to suggest some initiatives to foster safer driving, write us at

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