Eric Arnold, of Arnold Safety Consulting, is one of the top independent DOT consultants in the U.S., the go-to-guy if your company receives a notice from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Mr. Arnold responded to an editorial in the Reading Eagle on the recent Tracy Morgan accident and the call for another round of regulatory oversight:
“Starting in 2009, truck-crash fatalities and injuries have risen every year. During the same time, the Department of Transportation has been the most aggressive, hyper-regulatory regime. With this level of overregulation, accidents should be plunging. They are not. They are going up.
You argue it is because there are not enough rules. Hogwash. This blizzard of rules is having the opposite of its intended effect.”
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the regulatory arm for motor carriers of the DOT, is a descendant of the former Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), which got it’s start in regulating the once-mighty U.S. railway system. Although the economic dynamics of rail changed, the ICC would not let up and hastened the demise of this once great transportation system.
Likewise, the economic dynamics of trucking have changed, but the FMCSA shows no sign of letting up on its regulatory blitzkrieg. New administrative rules (and behind-the-scene guidance) are driving tens of thousands of experienced truck drivers out of the industry and has contributed to a driver shortage. This has had a direct affect on safety, as in some instances, new drivers with as little as six months experience are training other new drivers.
The economic dynamics of trucking (growth slashed nearly in half over the past two years) have resulted in some of the oldest equipment on the road since the Great Depression. Put new drivers in older trucks and what do you get? There are certain nuances in any industry that can only be learned through a long period of apprenticeship. Trucking is no different. More regulations never make anyone smarter.