Safety symposium produces solid recommendations
International Truck and Bus Safety Research and Policy Symposium
April 3-5, 2002 Knoxville, TN

More than 290 representatives from the truck and bus industry, research institutions, government agencies, safety groups, enforcement egencies and other such organizations attended a three-day symposium organized by the National Safety Council in Knoxville, TN, April 3-5. Representing the interests of professional truckers were OOIDA President Jim Johnston, OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig, and OOIDA Foundation Special Projects Manager John Siebert.

Participants were presented with up-to-date industry statistics, driver perception survey results, numerous keynote speakers (see May issue of Land Line for Jim Johnston’s speech) and more than 50 research papers on driver issues, data analysis, management issues, enforcement issues and new technology. Various committees were formed after the presentation of information. Jim Johnston took part in the Enforcement Issues group, Rick Craig in the Driver Issues group and John Siebert in New Technology Issues group.

The participants developed the top 10 recommendations (and an additional 14 recommendations), which have been listed in order of priority. An action plan was developed to disseminate the recommendations to various government agencies and organizations. 

The top 10 recommendations eventually adopted by the conference were items strongly advocated by OOIDA’s representatives in their individual committees.

Top 10 Recommendations

Driver Issues: Commercial driver training

The federal government should mandate and develop standardized CMV driver training which shall include entry-level, sustained (in-service), and remedial training to teach the proper skills, performance, and behaviors necessary to be a safe CMV driver. 

The industry, enforcement and research communities should be consulted for the content of this training curriculum.

Driver Issues: Public education/training

Governmental agencies should take a proactive and aggressive stand to promote, educate and fund programs to address the safe interactions of commercial vehicles and the general motoring public. 

This should be done in partnership with the transportation industry, independent transportation organizations through driver education, license testing, multimedia and public service announcements.

Enforcement Issues: Training

Training is an essential element of highway safety and of safety enforcement and should include the following: 

  • Mandatory entry-level training for commercial drivers
  • Public education on sharing the road with all vehicles
  • Standardized training for enforcement officers
Enforcement Issues: Policy law

Commercial vehicle enforcement strategies should be evaluated to consider inclusion of not only the driver, but others such as carriers, brokers, shippers and receivers who may dictate or affect the driver’s behavior. 

Broad-based traffic enforcement is an essential element in highway safety and should be incorporated into every vehicle safety plan whenever possible.

Data Analysis: Human factors data
Government and industry must cooperate to make available the following human factors to help motor carriers assess driver risk: employment history, physical qualification, driver training, crash and traffic violation history, and prior drug and alcohol records. In addition, the following crash information is needed to assess the driver’s contribution to the crash: current employment, driver physical condition and driver actions.
Management Issues: High-risk drivers

Industry should conduct behavioral research and driver data analysis to identify drivers who may be exceeding reasonable parameters, e.g.:

  • Incidents of hard braking 
  • Moving violations
  • Complaints from public
  • HOS violations
Management Issues: People management

Improve the selection and retention of quality drivers by:

  • Improving data collection and access to driver employment history and criminal history
  • Monitoring performance through new technology (on-board recording devices)
  • Enhancing benefits including incentives for good safety performance
  • Developing coaching guidelines to improve performance (best practice)
New Technology: Interactive in-vehicle technology
In order to promote the use of vehicle technology, the research community should collaborate on standard methodology to assess distraction potential; manufacturers should effectively integrate in-vehicle safety technology into driver/vehicle systems; and fleets should optimize usability and acceptability — all should work toward deployment.
Driver Issues: Commercial vehicle parking

The research community should identify regional and local deficiencies in available rest facilities. 

The government and private sector should (based on the research) seek methods to provide secure, safe, environmentally and economically feasible solutions to provide drivers with an adequate amount of rest while concurrently meeting the needs of truck companies, shippers, receivers and the local community.

Management Issues: Regulatory reform (federal industry)

Issue statement — 49 CFR is in need of revision, especially as it relates to human resources. In some instances, the rules are so ambiguous they create unnecessary legal and financial exposures for the carrier; and they allow carriers to use fewer safe drivers.

Recommendation — There needs to be a collaborative effort between industry and the FMCSA to revise the following areas of the regulations to be very specific and efficient, allowing them to be used as tools for improving safety.

Medical qualification — Clearly communicate medical qualification requirements and certify MDs (only) to perform certification.

Drugs/alcohol — Eliminate alcohol testing, except as directed by law enforcement, and create a national database of positive/refused drug and alcohol tests.

Driver qualifications — Allow the CDL to serve as the primary indicator or qualification. Any additional qualification requirements imposed on the carrier must be specific and objective. (This would include any requirements for prior employment, MVR history, prior drug and alcohol results, etc.)