Wednesday, June 11, 2014

81% Of The Time, It's Not Our Fault

Fault Distribution in Fatal Crashes
81% fault assigned to the car driver (71% plus shared 10%)
26% fault assigned to the truck driver (16% plus shared 10%)

All of this news coverage about the truck that collided with comedian Tracy Morgan's limo is really wearing on me.  Mostly because so much of it contains vague, incomplete, or out-and-out incorrect information.

NBC News asked the question, "Are some of America's more than 10 million commercial truckers operating their rigs when sleepy - and is that fatigue a factor injuring or killing other motorists?"  I wonder if they're aware that there are only 3.5 million trucks and drivers in the United States?

This asshole decided a scary headline - A Trucking Nightmare - will strike fear in the hearts and minds of the motoring public, probably hoping they'll miss that he got his "facts" wrong.  He writes that the Tracy Morgan accident happened in California, not New Jersey.

He also points out the number of fatalities in 2009 and 2012 involving over-the-road trucks but gives no indication as to whose fault those accidents were.  Let me fill in that fact for you -  81% of the time it's the fault of the car driver. And it's been that way for years.

In this article, the author writes "Fatalities and injuries related to traffic accidents involving trucks have increased for three consecutive years. Approximately 3,921 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks in 2012 and 104,000 more were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In those fatal crashes, the overwhelming majority of the fatalities occur in the cars: 98 percent of the deaths occur to car occupants, according to Advocates."

Note how they're talking about fatalities, not the cause of the accident that resulted in the fatality.  It makes sense that if a truck and car face-off, it's more likely for the car to suffer the worst damage and/or death of occupants.

This chick wrote, "Nearly four thousand people die in large truck crashes every year... the main cause of those - tired truckers."  What's her source?  Where's her data?

I actually emailed her to ask that question and her response was, "It was a fact from a CBS article, and since we are a CBS station we use other CBS articles as our source frequently."  I guess she decided it was good reporter policy to put her name on a piece she didn't do any fact-checking for.

And all of the people talking about falling asleep, being sleepy, not having enough sleep - which EVERY news outlet, blog, and passerby has quoted, but which hasn't been proven - should take a look at this study.  It's the most exhaustive one ever done, which lists the nature of driver errors in car/truck crashes.  "Asleep at the wheel" is only a factor in 1% of truck drivers, and gee, get this - 9% of car drivers.

The part of the media coverage I find most offensive is the fact that every single outlet writing about the accident has reported accusations that the driver had not slept in the 24 hours before the crash.

My first question when I initially read that was, "How did they know?"  Because there is NO WAY the driver himself would have told them that, even if it were true.  You know who decided he had no sleep? The New Jersey police.  Yet no one had any information on how they arrived at determining he was sleep-deprived.  Did he yawn?

It looks like New Jersey is bent on setting this driver up to be convicted of a crime. Because in New Jersey, sleep deprivation is seen as criminal and reckless. In 2003, they became the first state to make it a crime of vehicular homicide for causing a fatal accident while driving drowsy. The statute, known as Maggie’s Law, makes it illegal for a driver who has been awake longer than 24 hours to operate a vehicle.  The only similarity between that case and this one is that a person was driving a vehicle.  

Because the guy driving the car (not the truck) that killed Maggie, the law's namesake, was smoking crack before he crossed over the center line and plowed into her car head-on. Big difference.

This accident, because it involved a celebrity, became national news.  It was all over the place.  
If they can prove the driver didn't get any sleep before the accident (good luck with that, New Jersey), they can put him away for five to 10 years. If not, then it's just a regular 'ol accident.  Tragic, yes, but certainly nothing to spend more than a 24-hour news cycle on.

What I have a problem with are the drivers who complain about the Hours of Service but do nothing to express their displeasure with it.  Well, other than bitching about it in comment sections of blogs and talking about it over a meal at the truck stop.

How about instead of hauling ass to get your load to its destination within the time expectation of your dispatcher or company, you take a nap when you're tired and drive when you're not?  If more drivers responded in this manner, perhaps the powers that be would realize that they truly cannot mandate sleep time and drive time, and companies who hire truckers to move their freight will understand that by keeping them waiting in docks for hours on end, their product won't get to the other side in a safe and timely manner.

Just a few days before the Tracy Morgan accident, Landline, the OOIDA magazine, reported about a law firm advertisement disparaging truckers in a recent issue of Maxim, a men's magazine on sale in several truck stop chains.  Truckers were so offended that they bombarded the law firm's Facebook page, in addition to voicing their disapproval to the truck stops that carried the magazine.  The end result was an apology from both the law firm and Maxim magazine, and the truck stops that carried the magazine removed them from their shelves.

I have mixed feelings about this.  On one hand, it's great that drivers put their voices together to get something done. 
On the other hand, it was for a stupid fucking cause. Why aren't they bombarding the news outlets, journalists, and anti-trucking advocates about the utter crap we have to deal with on a regular basis?? 

Who cares that there's an advertisement in a magazine that offends you as a trucker? Don't buy it.  And if you're so worried about the image of a trucker in the eyes of the general public, how about taking a shower once in a while?  Wear a T-shirt that doesn't look as if you washed your car with it.  Not leave pee bottles and trash in parking lots.  Not actually pee in public parking lots.  Not ride the ass of cars on the interstate  Not speed through construction zones (I'm talking to you, FedEx).

And if you're feeling so outraged over a magazine advertisement - a one-page advertisement - that tarnishes the image of a group of people, you should probably be contacting Maxim about their never-ending objectification of women or their constant encouragement of excessive alcohol consumption. Those affect our society much more deeply than an advertisement that 98% of people will flip right past without even noticing.  Kinda off-topic, but you probably get the point.

Use the clamor of your voices to bombard people that matter - like lawmakers, corporation big whigs, managers, dispatchers, safety department heads, etc. - not Maxim magazine.

Because really, who cares if a few readers with small dicks think you're a serial killer?  

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Unknown said...

Well written and great blog. You will be on my reading list from now on. I am an advocate for fair rights for trucks and their drivers.

The Daily Rant said...

TAMMY: Thank you. And thanks for the comment. I do hope you come back, and the drivers appreciate your support!

Heather T said...

Well said!

Every time I hear that Senator Chuck Schumer wants to put black boxes in trucks and require all drivers to do electronic logs I want to scream. First of all he has no idea what he's talking about I'm sure.

If he wanted to make a difference he should make sure that drivers are paid a fair wage for ALL hours worked, get rid of driver unload or stand and count freight on the docks and quit bitching about drivers running their truck when it's hotter than Hades outside so you can't sleep - maybe then drivers could feel like they don't have to drive the hours they do and can make a living wage.
I love how the media sensationalizes everything way out of proportion and I agree there's no way that driver told anyone he'd been up for over 24 hours.

Decorina said...

When you're right, Salena, you're right. About all of it. I particularly got a kick out of "wear a t-shirt that doesn't look like you washed your car with it". Still giggling at that.

Seriously. One of the reasons I quit driving was after spending 8 hours at a Home Depot dock while they unloaded 500 boxes. Off and on in and out of my trailer with a fork. Then demanded I leave their lot. I declined their generous offer as I was 8 hours into my 10 hour break...and told them if they wanted me out of there they would have to tow my truck out. They left me alone, of course and I was actually able to get 2 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

The Daily Rant said...

HEATHER: I think the biggest problem for drivers stems from the shippers and receivers squandering their time. There is no way you can get any sleep if someone is knocking on your door every hour while you're in a loading dock. They waste the time of the driver, who's clock is ticking. And I like that the rules states you can count waiting in a dock as "off duty" - which of course, works to the benefit of the customer, not the driver. Because we all know that you're "on duty, not driving" when you're sitting around waiting to be loaded. Even if you're in the sleeper and technically logging sleeper time, you're not getting any.

DECORINA: Thank you. And yeah, I'm really particular about how I present myself as a driver, Ed too, and I don't think it's too hard to not look like a slob. I understand it's not always easy to get a shower in a timely manner, or that you may get dirty when loading/unloading/working on your truck, but that doesn't mean you can't go into the many truck stop bathrooms and wash the grime off your face and arms, run a comb through your hair and maybe put on a clean t-shirt.

And just as you said - drivers are expected to sit there while these people who load/unload don't give a shit about you, then expect you to get the hell out of their lot when they're done wasting your time.

I would have done the same exact thing. Told them to pound salt.

Angelo said...

Your good. Your rant about drivers was "spot on". Well, many of them anyway. Love your blog and wish I found it sooner.

The Daily Rant said...

ANGELO: Thanks for stopping by and thank you for taking time to comment! I hope you come back and read through some of the archives. Good to have you among my readers! Be safe on the road.