Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Truck rant

16 Comments

(This was written in January 2012. It was sitting in my draft folder, never posted, probably because I was afraid of offending someone. Now, nine years later, the same issues are still being studied by the DOT. Other than mandating unboard recorders nothing has been accomplished there.)

Warning – this is probably not going to be politically correct.  And I remind myself that what’s put out on the internet stays on the internet.  Good or bad.  But I’m working on truck safety stuff again, which makes me relive some of the initial moments and days after Dad’s crash.  And some things just need to be said.  Out loud.  Emphatically.

I’m heading to Washington again, for more meetings with the DOT; Secretary LaHood, FMSCA Administrator Anne Ferro and then members of Congress, to talk about things that can be done to improve safety.  Sometimes it all feels pointlessly repetitive, like we’re just wasting time, ours and theirs.

But then I remember.

I remember getting the call at work.  I remember signing papers to have Dad cremated and faxing them to the funeral home from a retail UPS store the night before Christmas Eve. I remember suffering through the holiday cheer of the employees as I waited for my confirmation while trying not to cry.  I remember sitting in my brother’s Alabama living room the night of Christmas Eve listening to the county coroner explain what happened.  I remember not understanding.

And this is what I can tell you now that I know more, understand more.

I know that though Dad was the kind of guy that would fix things and make them better, dead is forever and dead can’t be fixed.  And as much as I want to I can never make my family whole.  I told my sister, a couple of years into this journey, that if we could save one life through our efforts with the Truck Safety Coalition we’d be even.  She said “No we won’t.”  And she’s right.  We will never be even, not ever again.

So we can’t fix the fact that Dad is dead.  But we can fix fatigued driving.  And though common sense says that the easiest way to fix fatigued driving is to lower the number of hours a person can consecutively drive, well, maybe I’m just a naive civilian.

I received an emailed response from Administrator Ferro to my own emotional email expressing my displeasure with the new Hours of Service rule.  She says, and rightly so, that reducing truck crashes will take a complicated combination of rules, a push toward safety from many fronts –  and that reducing the number of allowed hours would continue to be studied.  She assures me a reduction in consecutive hours of driving could still be on the table.  OK.  So let’s study this for another year or more.  Apparently the people that will be killed by fatigued drivers during this period of study are expendable…collateral damage if you will.

Or maybe they’re just the cost of doing business.  After all, the trucking industry is the backbone of our economy, don’t you know.  So what’s good for the ATA (American Trucking Association) is good for all of us.   Right?  Well maybe good for everyone except those of us who get calls in the middle of the day, those of us signing our family member away to a funeral home, those of us left with a hole that can never be filled.  Those of us angry in our grief.

I’m not apologizing for this rant.  It’s your choice to read or not read.  Comment or not.  It wasn’t written for you.  It was written for me.  Because I have to go back to Washington and talk to these people again about common sense safety issues.  And I shouldn’t have to.  I shouldn’t have to explain simple concepts to people that are in power and are supposed to be experts in their fields.  I shouldn’t have to exploit Dad’s death to get something done.  I shouldn’t have to relive the whole thing over and over and over so that they can justify ‘studying’ things some more.

Give it up people.  The time for studying and discussion is over.  We need some action.  People are dying.

I don’t know what more I can say.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

16 thoughts on “Truck rant

  1. How much can the bureaucrats ignore? How much influence do the lobbyists have? A lot, apparently. Too much. When will lives matter more than dollars? Not soon enough. You must too often feel like you’re banging your head into a brick wall and I cannot express how much I admire your persistence. March in with your head held high, purpose in your step, and steel in your eyes and voice. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So sorry that after all this time you’re still having to fight for a reasonable change in the law to prevent other people from dying in the way your dad did. Sending big hugs ❤

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  3. I’m sorry to read about your father, but am pleased that you decided to post this. It is awful that even now, years later, common sense truck safety issues are something to be pushed aside by the people who could make a difference. How do they justify that? At least you tried and try. Your father would be proud of you.

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  4. “She assures me a reduction in consecutive hours of driving could still be on the table.”–so this is what people in power do. Throw out a little tidbit and hope this mollifies you. Dawn–keep fighting the fight. I worked in Risk Management for 25 years. Trying to get a driver DOT drug screened any time they were in an accident became an exercise in futility. Now we shorten their hours, too? This is a racket. What’s to study? People are dying. Study that and move on it. Your dad would be so proud of what you are doing. I am so proud. Give ’em hell.

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  5. I am crying, but love that you posted this. You are spot on.

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  6. My jaw dropped when you said this was a ten year old post and nothing has been done. So tragic. Once again I’m so sorry for your loss and hope and pray you get someone to hear. Why not read this out loud and tell them you wrote it ten years ago.

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  7. I just realized you said at the beginning it was 2012. It didn’t register, I guess. But it was impactful to find out after I read it..

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  8. My heart is with you. It was “forever” ago, and yet still fresh.

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  9. I sometimes despair of Big Government ever getting anything done about things that kill people regularly. Some things, yes, sometimes. Recalls of dangerous toys. Pulling dangerous drugs. But guns and trucks– ah, me. As always, I deeply appreciate those like you who keep pushing against the wall.
    I don’t find your post to be offensive at all. I think that naming names is the right thing to do. I think that calling out Big Trucking and Big Bureaucracy is the right thing to do. Thank you for saying all of this. Again. And again.

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  10. The way the government thinks, and reacts to things is so frustrating. It’s not rocket science, just change the laws. Seems pretty simple to me. Thank you for fighting!

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  11. Fatigued driving and distracted driving…so many more accidents everyday…sometimes it is scary to drive out there…I see people talking on their phones all the time.

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  12. You know what’s going to happen: trucking companies will ultimately start switching to automated or semi automated trucks to avoid the costliness of fatigued driver accidents… instead of addressing the root of the problem right now. I’m currently studying in school how businesses are throwing Business Intelligence (computer automation) at every conceivable aspect of business functions. It’s starting to backfire. It costs the companies millions to implement, it had positive returns at first, but now they’re seeing diminishing at an exponential rate. Instead of paying staff more and training them better and setting higher quality standards, we pay millions to technology as a quick fix. People are dumb. Fix the problem now, don’t let it get worse, for crying out loud!!!

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  13. Everyone who has commented here has written my thoughts and feelings too … from my own tears while I was reading your pain to my anger too and everything in between. I can’t imagine anyone listening to you when you have spoken at hearings in the past, or if you would speak what you wrote in this blog post, with you saying it with all the feeling you have, can’t imagine that person then NOT doing something. Saying a reduction in driving hours “could” still be on the table is crap, absolute crap. I don’t think I could do what you do, Dawn, I fear I would be so angry that I would physically hurt the people who could make a difference but don’t, the people who could listen but won’t, the people who could care but just can’t be bothered. It makes me so blinking angry. Bless you.

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