Posted on / by The Trucking Alliance

4 Trucking Alliance safety reforms and how they can make a difference

Safety is at the heart of what we do. And for us, it’s a personal matter, as the decision makers in our organization are actually employed by the companies. Trucking Alliance president Steve Williams, for example, is Chairman and CEO of Maverick USA. In a 2022 speech, Williams said, “I’ve often been asked by folks why I am so passionate about safety or trucks in general. Depending on who asked the question my answer is something like, ‘I wasn’t born in a truck, but I was never very far from one: my dad and grandfather were owner-operators hauling steel predominantly out of St. Louis.’”

Dangerous driving can lead to accidents and place all those on the road at risk — which is especially true for commercial truck drivers operating large vehicles. For this reason, we’re working to advance safety measures so that everyone, both our drivers and other motorists,  can feel comfortable getting from place to place. These are just some of the core safety reforms we have supported.

All commercial trucks should be required to have electronic logging devices (ELDs).

Simply put, truck driver fatigue is a contributing factor in large truck crashes. To address this issue, the Trucking Alliance became the industry leader in advancing legislation to replace the paper log books that drivers had been using since the 1930s, which were easily falsified. Our legislation required interstate trucking companies to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) to verify that drivers don’t exceed their on-duty hours, which causes fatigue. 

We’re pleased that Congress passed the law requiring ELDs in all interstate trucks in 2012. The regulation became operational in 2020. However, we believe that ELDs should be the standard for all trucks hauling freight, across the board — regardless of the commodity being transported, the length of haul or whether it is interstate or intrastate commerce. Said Williams, “I and the members of the Alliance felt that achieving the ELD Mandate would be the foundation upon which the industry would finally have the footing from which to build sustainable safe trucking companies to meet the needs of our nation.”

The Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse should include all commercial truck drivers. 

Not all truck drivers — for example, those driving delivery trucks and box trucks — are included in the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, the database that provides information for employers on past drug test failures of job applicants. This should be a requirement, as well as hair test submissions to the Clearinghouse.

For example, truck drivers who fail a DOT-required drug test, can apply for work at local trucking companies that don’t cross state lines, making them an interstate carrier and triggering the requirement for a mandated drug test. . Employers of trucking companies, like those that utilize local delivery and box trucks, should be required to query the Clearinghouse, to make sure their drivers didn’t previously fail a drug test.

As Williams said, ”Owning a trucking company or operating a commercial vehicle is not an entitlement… it’s a privilege. With privileges come responsibilities. It isn’t too much to expect that our nation’s drivers should be well rested, properly trained and drug and alcohol-free. That is the only way that we can build out an efficient and sustainable supply chain to meet our nation’s needs.”

The Dept. of Transportation must recognize hair drug testing of commercial truck drivers, as Congress mandated eight years ago. 

Illicit drug use impairs driving ability. Employers should be aware if truck driver applicants have ever failed a drug test. But the type of test makes a big difference. That’s why the Trucking Alliance is an advocate for hair testing over the DOT required urinalysis, as studies show the latter fails to identify 9 out of 10 drug users. “Hair testing is now recognized, over a much less effective urine drug test, to keep illegal drug users from driving large trucks,” Williams said. In 2015, Congress directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to recognize hair tests, in lieu of urinalysis, in hiring commercial truck drivers. Yet, DOT has failed to implement the mandate, citing delays in completing testing guidelines, and refuses to accept hair drug test results into the Clearinghouse. 

Commercial truck drivers should be equipped with emerging technologies, including highly automated driving systems.

Navigating unsafe weather conditions, highway emergencies, unexpected detours — truck drivers manage it all to provide top-notch customer service and deliver essential goods. As automated driving systems become more advanced, truck drivers should be first in line to access them. Williams states, “The Trucking Alliance will continue to support more safety reforms and emerging technologies in 2023, both of which can help make the commercial driver’s work environment safer and more secure.”

New technologies could lead to safer roads. Ideally, that means less accidents and overall better working conditions for truck drivers. But first and foremost, drivers should have control, maintaining the ability to override automated systems whenever necessary.