January saw an increase in trucking industry jobs and notable highway-related news. Here are the highlights:
â€¢ The trucking industry added 5000 jobs.
â€¢ Car drivers are shown at fault for more accidents than truck drivers.
â€¢ States propose increases in highway speed limits.
Trucking Industry Adds 5000 Jobs in December
As the nationâ€™s unemployment rate increased slightly from 7.8 percent in December to 7.9 percent in January the employment rate in the transportation sector decreased overall from 4501500 to 4487300 last month. These numbers indicate a second consecutive month of transportation employment decreases with a loss in the last month of 14200 jobs.
However the trucking industry added 5000 payroll jobs last month according to the latest information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Truck companies now sustain a total of 1375100 jobs in January compared to 1370100 jobs in December.
ATA Study Shows Car Drivers at Fault for More Crashes Than Truckers
The American Trucking Associations released several studies on February 12 that found car drivers more at fault than truckers in the cause of car crashes.
Car drivers were assigned factors in 81 percent of crashes compared to 27 percent of truckers in a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study. 10 percent of crashes assigned blame to both the car and truck drivers.
In the same study cars were found to be the encroaching vehicle in 89 percent of head-on crashes in 88 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes in 80 percent of rear-end crashes and in 72 percent of same-direction side-swipes.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study released similar numbers: Car drivers were found at fault for 91 percent of head-on crashes 91 percent of opposite-direction sideswipes 71 percent of rear-end crashes and 77 percent of same-direction sideswipes. At less than 1 percent of the sample set truck drivers were found at fault for 89 percent of banking accidents. Casual driver factors were assigned to 10092 fatalities.
In an AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study examining 10732 fatal accidents thirty-six percent of car drivers were cited for at least two unsafe acts while only 11 percent of truck drivers were cited for at least two unsafe acts. This study examined 10 732 fatalities.
In two studies from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) 85 percent of cars were assigned driver factors in crashes in 2007 while 26 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors. In 2008 85 percent of cars versus 25 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors while in 2009 81 percent of cars versus 22 percent of trucks were assigned driver factors. These figures are from annual crash data in 6 131 car-truck fatalities. The second FMCSA study took data from a smaller field of 221 fatal accidents finding 77 percent of cars and 23 percent of trucks at fault.
â€œEvery crash and every fatality and injury suffered on our nationâ€™s highways is a tragedyâ€ said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. â€œBut it is also tragic that carriers and drivers across this country are saddled with guilt and blame for many crashes they could do nothing to prevent.â€
States Push for Increasing Highway Speed Limits
On the trucking radar recently is the country-wide desire to increase highway speed limits. An Indiana state law-maker proposes to increase the trucking speed limit on rural interstates from 65 mph to 70 mph â€“the same limit for small vehicles.
â€œIt drives me nuts when I come up on the rear end of these trucks and theyâ€™re going 65 mph and Iâ€™m going 70 mphâ€ Rep. Thomas Washburn R-Inglefield told Land Line. â€œThe differential in speeds doesnâ€™t make sense to me.â€
Lawmakers in other states including Oklahoma Wyoming Iowa Mississippi Connecticut New Hampshire and Maryland also propose an increase in highway speed limits spanning from 70 to 84 mph.
OOIDA leadership states that for safety any changes made to speed limits must promote uniformity for drivers. If lawmakers choose to change speeds it is essential that the change allow all vehicles to travel at the same speedâ€ OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. â€œRequiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other vehicles does not promote safety. It does exactly the opposite by requiring vehicles to be constantly in conflict with each other.â€