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    Posted April 30, 2010 by
    Flafstaff, Arizona
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    CSA - Cleaning up the Road?


    The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set up a program Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010. This program is designed to reduce the number of accidents caused by big rigs and to increase standards for testing of existing drivers and set specific standards for all Motor Carrier (big rig) drivers.

    Why, would any of this be important enough to do this story? It wasn’t until I wrote the iReport detailing the closure of the I-40 in Northern Arizona and saw the impact and sheer volume of big rigs that are on a freeway at one time. The last report I posted was intended to be a good news story, the freeway is open and all is back to normal, but it turned out to be about the 4 big rigs that rammed into each other causing the back up of traffic (westbound lanes) for 20 or more miles. This accident occurred about 30 minutes after the I-40 freeway was opened in Winslow, AZ. These truckers and travelers had been waiting for nearly 12 hours to hit the road. Suffice it to say, the truckers were not happy that ‘some of their own’ (actually, most of the drivers referred to the accident drivers as “idiots”, “assholes”, and worse) were the reason for more delays of their cargo and meeting delivery schedules. One driver said, “I gotta hurry, California is running out of food.” I heard about the accident, causing the I-40 westbound delay, by turning on our onboard CB and listening to trucker chatter for almost two hours.

    It was during this chatter that several interesting comments were made. Not only were the truckers talking about all of their problems making up lost time to destinations, they talked about good trucking companies and bad. Several positive ‘shout-outs’ complimented the Swift Trucking Company as having great drivers and being courteous on the road; especially when it comes to letting another driver ‘slide over’ to get ahead in traffic. The second trucking company mentioned several times, as having great drivers, was Fed-EX. One trucker said, “them boys know how to drive.”

    After about 45 minutes of all the truckers sitting in the I-40 westbound back-up watching eastbound truckers whiz by and giving them updates on the accident, (“Move over to the granny lane, or you won’t get through”), the conversation turned when someone asked about the new CSA 2010 program. Wow, all hell broke loose at this point. The shouting and noise from the CB was a cacophony of voices, all wanting to talk at once about this program.  One driver yelled out, “shut-up everybody you can’t all talk at once.” Many drivers expressed concern that up to 175,000 trucking jobs will be lost (where they get this information, I do not know). Several drivers are for the program and say “it will clean up the roads and get the bad drivers off and out.” Some said, “It was because of Obama and that’s why you’re not seeing any Obama bumper stickers anymore on trucks, they all took them off.” At this point, I am wondering how many truck washes these rigs have been through since the election.

    It was a passionate, angry, bored, uniformed, and informed CB back and forth of expletives and explanations. It was obvious that many drivers do not understand what the program entails, when it will happen, or what it means to their jobs. Other drivers were trying to enlighten them and provide accurate information, because they are involved with the testing of CSA.

    The CSA began a test model in February of 2008. The States, where the program began testing are: Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, and New Jersey. In 2009, the FMCSA added Montana and Minnesota to the test group.

    As motorhome drivers, traveling the freeways and highways of the U.S., we trust this program will clean up and get the bad big rig drivers off of the road! We left Meteor Crater RV Park, early this morning (we needed to go someplace warm!) and had one of those freeway experiences that just makes you wonder…what the hell is going on with that driver ahead of us?!

    On the I-40 westbound of Flagstaff, AZ, a Roadway driver (no back license plate on his rig) was weaving back and forth between the two lanes. This did not happen once, it occurred three times. There were no wind gusts, the weather was calm. As we followed (at a safe distance), we asked ourselves the obvious. Is he on a cell phone, texting, peeing into a jug, on drugs, or nodding off because he has been waiting out the storms and the freeway opening? We were able to find a straight stretch and safely pass the driver of the rig. If we had been able to take down a license plate number we would have reported this incident (there was no 800#, “report my driving”, on the back of the trailer).  Something was definitely wrong with his driving ability!

    The recent stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, states “Truck drivers and driver/sales workers comprise one of the largest occupations, holding 3.2 million jobs.”  There may be some big rig drivers who will not qualify and will lose their jobs under the CSAprogram.  I feel badly that some truckers may lose their job, but also believe some do not belong on the freeways, or highways endangering themselves, or the lives of other drivers!

    Update: 5/1/2010

    On April 27, 2010 a Senate Hearing was held on “Oversight of Motor Carrier Safety Efforts”, which included trucking industry representatives of the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). A Senate Press Release 4/28/2010; summarizes the testimony and comments made in this Hearing.

    Information and fact checking is readily available to all Motor Carrier drivers.  The introduction of CSA began in 2008.  The guidelines for increased Motor Carrier Safety were begun under the Bush Administration.  The continuing efforts to improve CSA guidelines are being implemented in the Obama Administration.  The goal of CSA 2010 is a “national safety initiative to more effectively identify and quickly intervene with large truck and bus drivers and carriers who are not complying with safety rules in order to make the roads safer for everyone.”



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