By: Steve Vaughn, senior vice president of field operations, PrePass Safety Alliance
“It’s all about control.”
That’s what I hear from frustrated fleet managers and their professional drivers – the government is trying to control our every action. Take the speed limiter proposal, they say. “It’s the government bureaucrats, most of whom have never been in a truck cab, who are trying to control the flexibility we need to accommodate merging traffic and to pass slowpoke drivers holding up traffic.”
Or what about that side underride guard rulemaking? Haven’t the regulators read their own research that shows over 80% of the time, the passenger car hit the truck trailer at a speed higher than a side underride guard protects against anyway? “No,” the annoyed truckers complain, “the government wants us to control the results when motorists are cited for speeding six times more frequently than truckers.”
And if the government wants to control something, “why don’t they take control of detention and delay at shipper facilities so our trucking operations aren’t running behind schedule?”
I agree, I tell my trucking friends. It’s about control: self-control.
We will face a continual flow of regulations so long as highway safety deteriorates. And many of those regulations will attempt to control some aspect of speed and speeding because: 1) speeding is one of the most frequent reasons cars and trucks are pulled over, and 2) simple physics tells us that crashes at higher speeds are more deadly and damaging.
Yes, tell the regulators where their proposals may fall short… and be sure to share that with your elected officials, too, I say. But even well-founded complaints will not succeed unless drivers reduce truck speeding. That takes self-control by fleet managers and their drivers.
Summer driving offers plenty of opportunity for self-control. Highway work zones restrict lanes and lower speed limits. Drivers need self-control when passenger cars cut in front of trucks. Tell them to let the motorists go and stick with the lower posted speed.
Open roads and sunny skies invite open throttles and “freewheeling” driving by motorists, who often express impatience with the slower trucks in their lane. Those factors test truck driver self-control. If they feel a need for some emotional release, tell your drivers to do it with a friendly wave.
Fleet managers themselves must exercise self-control when traffic, weather, or road conditions cause their drivers to reduce speeds below the legal limit, possibly affecting on-time operations. Instead, thank the drivers for not risking another truck-involved accident and creating even more impetus for regulations.
We all can get frustrated by what we cannot control. That’s why we must turn to those things we can control, beginning with ourselves. Controlling the flow of trucking regulations similarly begins with controlling the speed of our trucks. It’s all about control: self-control.
Steve Vaughn is senior vice president of field operations at PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and electronic toll-payment and management services. Vaughn served nearly three decades with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
This blog was originally published on the FleetOwner.com website.