FMCSA unveils five-year strategic plan

ATA says draft comes up short for crash causation

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a draft version of its “2011-2016 Strategic Plan: Raising the Safety Bar,” a document that outlines a framework to carry out its safety mandate and places a “greater emphasis on the overall commercial motor vehicle transportation lifecycle.” The plan – which is FMCSA’s second such document since the agency was established in 2000 and was published in the June 29 Federal Register – consists of four focus areas:

FMCSA says its “2011-2016 Strategic Plan: Raising the Safety Bar” document will serve as a roadmap for the agency’s actions in the next five years.FMCSA says its “2011-2016 Strategic Plan: Raising the Safety Bar” document will serve as a roadmap for the agency’s actions in the next five years.

CMV Safety 1st Culture: Deliver comprehensive safety programs and promote operating standards focused on fostering safety as the highest priority within the CMV transportation lifecycle. Recognize that, while safety is FMCSA’s highest priority, the agency also must foster other important societal goals within the CMV transportation industry, including security, hazmat safety, consumer protection and other DOT objectives;

Exponential Safety Power (SafetyX Power): Establish new partnerships and develop policies and programs promoting opportunities to collaborate with all stakeholders on CMV safety interventions. Build a coordinated network of safety partners and stakeholders to advance a common safety agenda;

Using Comprehensive Data & Leveraging Technology: Improve standards and systems to identify, collect, evaluate and disseminate real-time performance data to all employees, customers, partners and stakeholders. Leverage research and emerging technologies to impact CMV transportation safety positively; and

One FMCSA: Improve the strategic management of programs and human capital within FMCSA to build and sustain a diverse work force and develop innovative solutions to the CMV transportation challenges of today and tomorrow.

The agency says the strategic plan will serve as a roadmap for FMCSA’s actions in the next five years. “It directs how we will focus our resources to achieve greater success in saving lives,” says FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

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The American Trucking Associations, however, says the plan does not do enough to address the root causes of crashes. “ATA commends FMCSA for acknowledging the need to address all entities that affect truck and driver safety in the transportation lifecycle, especially the operators of passenger vehicles with which trucks share the road,” ATA wrote in comments filed July 29. “However, while the draft plan addresses these issues, it falls far short in that it does not identify the primary causes of crashes and prioritize countermeasures and solutions accordingly.”

ATA says it recognizes that FMCSA’s primary role is to regulate the trucking industry. “By minimizing the emphasis on addressing passenger vehicle driver behavior, FMCSA will, at best, only impact the minority of truck crashes – perhaps less than 30 percent – caused by truck drivers.”


* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration slightly relaxed its new stopping distance requirements for new truck tractors at lower initial speeds in response to petitions for reconsideration of the agency’s 2009 final rule. The stopping distance requirement tested from an initial speed of 20 mph is being increased from 30 feet to 32 feet for typical loaded tractors and from 28 feet to 30 feet for unloaded tractors.

* The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration awarded its highest possible safety rating to the Pennsylvania State Police for providing timely, accurate crash and inspection data. In 2010, state motor carrier inspectors conducted more than 93,000 random truck inspections and weighed more than 435,000 trucks. More than 88,000 severe safety violations were discovered last year.

* In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Dan England – chairman and president of C.R. England Inc., and vice chairman of the American Trucking Associations – urged Congress to require new companies entering the trucking industry to successfully complete training and an examination before being permitted to operate, and to undergo an initial safety audit within six months of commencing operations instead of the current standard of 18 months.

* John Davis Trucking Co. is countersuing Amtrak and Union Pacific following a June 24 accident when a JDT truck struck an Amtrak train, killing six people. JDT alleges the rail companies failed to maintain a safe railroad crossing at the crash site and didn’t warn drivers adequately of oncoming trains.

Preventable or not: Doe rolled over by rollup door

Not ready to let go of summer fun just yet, trucker John Doe happily accepted the task of delivering a load of colorful belly boards and swimwear to the Supreme Surfer Supermarket in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Now, days later, he was almost at his destination, sitting proudly behind the wheel of a beautiful, powerful new conventional with bright red paint, highly-polished aluminum wheels, chrome stacks, an ample supply of fresh fruit (Doe was watching his weight, after all) and a soul-stimulating stereo that “probably could blow out the windshield,” he mused.

John Doe couldn’t avoid the rollup door that rolled down onto the top rear of his trailer without warning. Was this a preventable accident?John Doe couldn’t avoid the rollup door that rolled down onto the top rear of his trailer without warning. Was this a preventable accident?

Life was good. Before long, he’d be back home to crank up his ol’ Harley Sportster, do some fishing, sight-in the new scope on his Winchester for hunting season and start restoring the rusty 1968 GTX 440 Magnum convertible he’d purchased from Joe Bob at Asa Sharp’s garage in Beaverton.

Let’s see, turn right on this road, go three blocks and … hey, there it is, dead ahead, the Supreme Surfer Supermarket! After waiting for another trucker to exit the dock by passing under a motor-driven rollup door, Doe began backing his trailer, cautiously eyeballing his mirrors. What the … ??? Oh no!!! The rollup door began to roll down … fast … and … WHUMP! … hit the top rear of his trailer!

An agitated store manager suddenly materialized and yelled to Doe to pull forward, but that maneuver ripped the dock door into itty-bitty pieces, earning Doe a preventable-accident warning letter, which he contested. Asked to render a final decision, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee immediately ruled in Doe’s favor. There was no way that Doe could have anticipated or escaped the door’s dastardly descent, NSC said.