Archive for the ‘SAFETY NEWS’ Category

FMCSA Survey Shows Increase in Safety Belt Use Among Commercial Truck and Bus Drivers

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

According to FMCSA’s Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey, the number of commercial drivers that are wearing safety belts has increased by 14 percent since 2007. The 2010 survey observed 26,830 commercial drivers operating medium- to heavy-duty trucks and buses at 998 roadside sites nationwide. The survey found that safety belt use for commercial drivers and their occupants was higher, 80 percent, in states where law enforcement may stop drivers for not wearing a safety belt, versus 72 percent in states with weaker secondary enforcement belt use laws.

A regional breakdown showed that safety belt use rates for commercial drivers and their occupants were highest in the West, at 82 percent, compared with 79 percent in the South, 73 percent in the Midwest and 69 percent in the Northeast.

FMCSA Completes Compliance Sweep of Moving Companies in Nine Major Cities

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Three household goods moving companies are facing civil penalty fines of $25,000 each as a result of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforcement sweep which took place in nine major U.S. cities from March 14-18, 2011. The companies are Guardian Moving & Storage of Los Angeles, California; Lightning Van Lines, Inc. of San Leandro, California; and Viking Moving and Storage, Inc. of Oakland, California.

The sweep, in which 37 FMCSA and state investigators conducted compliance reviews of 67 moving companies, was part of the agency’s year-round Household Goods Strike Force initiative designed to protect the public from fraudulent moving companies. The sweep targeted high-risk moving companies in Los Angeles and San Jose, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; New Orleans, Louisiana; Miami, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia.

“We are committed to protecting the public from unscrupulous movers that attempt to operate unsafely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We want these carriers to know that there are serious legal and financial consequences for evading federal regulations.”

The comprehensive compliance reviews conducted by federal and state investigators looked for regulatory violations such as failing to relinquish possession of a household goods shipment (hostage load), collecting fees more than the original binding estimate and failing to provide consumers with an arbitration process.

“FMCSA is committed to raising the bar for safety and closing cases on rogue household goods movers,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We will do this by keeping the focus on safety and on improving service to the American public, one safe and successful move at a time.”

Consumers can report problems with moving companies by calling FMCSA’s nationwide complaint hotline at 1-888-368-7238 (1-888 DOT-SAFT) or by visiting

North Dakota Becomes 31st State to Ban Texting While Driving

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today praised North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for signing a tough new law banning texting while driving. The law makes North Dakota the 31st state to ban texting behind the wheel.

“North Dakota has taken an important step to eliminate distracted driving,” said Secretary LaHood. “Thanks to the bill signed today by Governor Dalrymple, North Dakota roads will be safer for everyone.”

The new law, which becomes effective August 1, will impose a fine of $100 on people caught texting while driving.

With the addition of North Dakota, 31 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have now banned text messaging by all drivers. Eight states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands have prohibited all hand-held cell phone use while driving.

May is National Bike Safety Month

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

From the DOT Secretary BLOG: “Today, I am happy to let everyone know that May is National Bike Safety Month. As summer approaches, millions of Americans will climb onto their bikes to enjoy one of the most enjoyable ways to get some exercise, have some fun, and get where they need to go.

Whatever your reason for saddling up, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and AAA want you to ride safely. To help spread this important message, they’ve joined together to launch “Roll Model,” a campaign reminding parents and caregivers to set positive examples that encourage children and teens to ride safely, this month and every month.”

FAA Announces Additional Actions as Part of Air Traffic Control Review

Friday, April 29th, 2011

WASHINGTON – Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt announced additional management changes and other actions today as part of the FAA’s comprehensive review of the air traffic control system.
Three veteran FAA managers will be repositioned to assume oversight of critical air traffic roles:
• Walt Cochran will oversee Terminal Operations, where he will be responsible for all of the Agency’s airport towers and TRACONS (approach and departure control).
• Chris Metts will oversee all of the Agency’s En Route and Oceanic operations.
• Glen Martin will become the Air Traffic Manager at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center. He is currently the deputy air traffic manager at Chicago Center.
The FAA is also assessing key mid-level management positions to ensure that both technical and leadership expectations are being met.
Teams of FAA experts are also examining some of the agency’s more complex facilities, including Cleveland and New York Centers, in an effort to make certain that operational policies and professional standards are being upheld.
“We are continuing to do everything in our power to ensure that our nation’s aviation system remains the safest in the world. This is just the beginning of the process to make sure we have the best possible team in place,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
“The FAA’s focus is safety. These changes ensure that we have the right people in the right places to help us carry out our mission,” said FAA Administrator Babbitt. “I am confident our top-to-bottom review is making our air traffic system even safer.”
Secretary LaHood and Administrator Babbitt announced earlier this month that the FAA would place an additional air traffic controller on the midnight shift at air traffic control towers and facilities around the country that were staffed with only one controller during that time.
Three controllers in Knoxville, Miami and Seattle were fired for sleeping while working an operational position. These employees have a due process right to respond to these actions.
Additionally, the FAA instituted changes to air traffic controller scheduling practices that will allow controllers more time for rest between shifts. The FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) are continuing to work together on additional changes that will help reduce controller fatigue, including a fatigue education program.
On Friday, the FAA also announced the members of an independent review panel that will evaluate the agency’s air traffic control training curriculum, qualifications and placement process to make sure new controllers are properly prepared. The members of the panel are: Michael Barr, University of Southern California Aviation, Safety & Security program; Tim Brady, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University; Garth Koleszar, NATCA; Michael New, United Airlines; and Julia Pounds, FAA. The panel will submit a report to FAA Administrator Babbitt this fall.
The in-depth look at air traffic controller training is part of the FAA – NATCA Call to Action on air traffic control safety and professionalism. Administrator Babbitt, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and members of their leadership teams have been visiting air traffic facilities around the country to reinforce the need for all air traffic personnel to adhere to the highest professional standards.
During the Call to Action, FAA and NATCA teams have so far visited air traffic personnel and facilities in and around: Atlanta; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Columbus; Dallas–Ft. Worth; Denver; Kansas City; Knoxville; Lincoln; Louisville; Miami; Minneapolis; New York; Oklahoma City; Oakland; Omaha; Reno; Sacramento; and Salt Lake City.

Statement From FAA Administrator Babbitt

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

April 14, 2011
Contact: FAA Press Office
Phone: 202-267-3883
Over the last few weeks we have seen examples of unprofessional conduct on the part of a few individuals that have rightly caused the traveling public to question our ability to ensure their safety. This conduct must stop immediately. I am committed to maintaining the highest level of public confidence and that begins with strong leadership.

This morning I met with the head of our Air Traffic Organization, the part of the Federal Aviation Administration charged with operating our air traffic control system. Hank Krakowski has submitted his resignation and I have accepted it. Hank is a dedicated aviation professional and I thank him for his service. Starting today, I have asked David Grizzle, FAA’s chief counsel, to assume the role of acting ATO chief operating officer while we conduct a nationwide search to permanently fill the position.

We are conducting a top to bottom review of the way we operate our air traffic control system. We are all responsible and accountable for safety–from senior FAA leadership to the controller in the tower. Employees at the FAA work diligently every day to run the safest air transportation system in the world. But I will continue to make whatever changes are necessary to ensure we concentrate on keeping the traveling public safe.

NHTSA Proposes Rear-View Visibility Rule

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has invited comments on a proposed new rear-view visibility rule.

The proposed rear-view visibility rule would eliminate blind zones as part of a landmark effort to prevent cars from backing over pedestrians. On average, there are nearly 300 fatalities and 18,000 injuries a year. A disproportionate number are toddlers and the elderly. The NHTSA believes this rule can help save lives and prevent thousands of injuries every year.

The proposed rule follows the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act of 2007, which directed NHTSA to amend rear-view visibility standards. One of the worst things about these back-over accidents is that it often involves parents backing up over their own children in the family driveway.

The act was named for Cameron Gulbransen, who was just 2 years old when his father, a pediatrician, got in his car, backed up, and killed his son.

Drowsy Driving

Monday, March 21st, 2011

According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, drowsy driving crashes injured more than 30,000 people. And, because police can’t always determine with certainty when driver fatigue causes a crash, the actual number may be higher.

Innovations introduced by the Federal Highway Administration have already helped. Continuous shoulder rumble strips and raised lane dividers alert drivers when their vehicles drift. Cable barriers reduce the risk of collisions.

And a new approach called Safety Edge  paves the edge of a road at an angle of 30 degrees instead of 90 degrees. This more gradual separation allows a driver whose car has drifted to steer the vehicle back onto the roadway more safely.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also entered into a cooperative agreement with a group of automakers to help develop vehicle-to-vehicle communications. With features like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Advanced Object Detection, vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems can alert drivers to potentially critical situations.

Cars Test Blood Alcohol Level

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

The Driver Alcohol Detection Systems for Safety, developed by Waltham, Mass.-based QinetiQ North America, would employ sensors that would test a drivers BAC either through his or her breath or skin. Sensitive breath sensors installed in the cabin could grab respiratory samples from the air to dial in a driver’s BAC, or strategically-placed sensors on the steering wheel and door locks could analyze a driver’s skin to get a BAC reading before allowing him or her to fire up the engine.

Both technologies are nascent, and government officials admit that neither technology would see a commercial rollout for another decade most likely. Even then, they wouldn’t be mandated.

Ford Demonstrates Vehicle-to-Vehicle Safety Communication

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

With vehicle-to-vehicle communication, intelligent cars talk to each other wirelessly, warning drivers of potential dangers. Ford is one of the first automakers to build prototype vehicles demonstrating this exciting new technology, which could also be installed in buses, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles.

In a demonstration, Administrator Appel and Deputy Assistant Secretary Fontenot endured several hair-raising potential crash scenarios. And, from potential crash scenario to potential crash scenario, the new technology alerted the driver before it was too late and in ways our current vehicles simply cannot do.

“It wasn’t comfortable, knowing that we were being driven deliberately into the most common situations where crashes occur,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Fontenot. “But each time, the vehicle alerted the driver–way in advance of his ability to see the danger on his own.”

For example, with a long chain of vehicles moving at speed on a highway, if the lead vehicle brakes sharply, the trailing vehicle’s driver remains unaware of the danger until all of the subsequent vehicles slam on their brakes. Sometimes, this is too late to avoid a crash.
But the Ford prototype receives the wireless signal from the lead car and informs the driver immediately–without the dangerous delay of the long chain of brake lights.

In a less common–but perhaps more dangerous–occurence, vehicle-to-vehicle technology can warn a driver when a nearby car is approaching an intersection and is likely to violate the right-of-way. Imagine approaching an intersection where you have the green light. Now imagine that a vehicle you can’t see is approaching from the right and ignores the red light. Unless you and your passengers learn of this reckless approach, you are all in potential peril.