On December 16, 2008 I predicted some dramatic developments in areas such as truck accident fatality rates, government efforts to improve safety and other aspects of commercial trucking in our country http://blog.truckaccidents.com/my-new-years-transportation-predictions/.
Here is a look back at my predictions along with an update on how each has fared over the past year.
1. In 2009, the ongoing battle over truck drivers’ hours of service will be revisited either through language added to a transportation bill, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. once again, or a Congressional mandate to the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) administrator to review and revise these regulations.
This prediction came true. The new FMCSA administration has committed to change the HOS and end litigation.
2. There will be a trade-off. Truck drivers will still be permitted to drive 11 hours but mandatory Electronic On Board Recorders will be phased in over the next 5 years.
This prediction did not become a reality in ’09, but recent comments from the NTSB are promising and I stand by my prediction that mandatory use of EOBRs will be phased in over the next several years.
3. So far in 2008, the number of trucking fatalities was down as a percentage of miles driven. Next year, trucking will be more competitive with rail given the lower cost of fuel, which will account for a higher percentage of shipping going to trucking. This, however, will be offset by the poor economy and fewer goods shipped. There will be losses and labor cuts in the rail, ocean, intermodal, and trucking industries. In trucking, this will make more experienced drivers available and continue to reduce fatality rates. (Call me Pollyanna)
This prediction came true. Trucking fatalities per miles driven continue to decrease, thanks to many factors. I believe that the efforts of better-educated plaintiff’s attorneys have been one of these factors.
4. The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee will be reconstituted. There will finally be two or three actual safety advocates on the Committee as mandated by its charter.
This one is still in the air, while we wait to see what new directions the new FMCSA administrator takes.
5. There will be an absolutely huge commitment to rebuild America’s infrastructure to the tune of several trillion dollars.
True. Every time I drive, I see signs of new road construction fueled by the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package.
In an upcoming post, I will once again peer into my crystal ball and present some thoughts on what to expect in 2010.