Truck News

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When bad decisions are made on an enormous scale

You’re going to read about a couple of bad decisions in this month’s Truck News. Or if you are a regular visitor to our Web site, you’ve likely read about them already. We all make bad decisions once in a while. Some of us,...


You’re going to read about a couple of bad decisions in this month’s Truck News. Or if you are a regular visitor to our Web site, you’ve likely read about them already. We all make bad decisions once in a while. Some of us, more often than others.
The US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should know better. By pandering to special interest (read, anti-truck groups) and re-opening the hours-of-service rules for commercial drivers at a time when truck safety performance was better than it has ever been, the agency was unable to disguise its true agenda.

The rules, released late on the afternoon of Dec. 23, while the agency surely hoped many industry observers would be preoccupied with the looming holidays, make little sense, particularly if you were to believe the changes were truly aimed at improving highway safety.

The rules, in short, require drivers to take a 30-minute break after eight hours of consecutive driving. Fine. But they also require drivers using the 34-hour reset to take at least two nights off (between 1 and 5 a.m.) during that reset period. That’s just wrong.

For one, this will make overnight parking spaces – already a luxury in many areas – even harder to come by as drivers time their reset to comply with the requirement. It’ll also put more trucks on the road in the morning rush hour, where they’ll be jockeying for space with morning commuters as they come off their reset. And additionally, the new requirement will present a difficult adjustment for drivers who regularly drive at night and whose sleep patterns have adjusted accordingly.

The FMCSA backed off its threat to reduce daily driving time from 11 hours to 10 – the lone silver lining for the trucking industry – but in doing so, it managed to upset not only the industry but also those groups that advocated for the changes in the first place. So in the end, no one’s happy, and the rules will likely be challenged in the courts at an enormous expense to taxpayers and the lobby groups that represent the interests of carriers.

And speaking of bad decisions, banana conglomerate Chiquita got some really bad advice from environmental group ForestEthics, which advised the company to take a public stance against fuel sourced from Canada’s oil sands.

The policy might have slipped beneath the radar, but when the media got wind of it, a firestorm erupted that brought national attention to Chiquita’s hypocrisy.

By encouraging its transport providers to avoid buying fuel sourced from the ‘tar sands,’ Chiquita indirectly endorsed oil from the Middle East, where crimes against humanity routinely exceed any perceived crimes against the environment, which may or may not be occurring in Western Canada, depending on your perspective.

Also, old news reports about Chiquita paying terrorist organizations to protect its workers suddenly became fresh news once again.

Did you know Chiquita funded Colombian terrorists? I didn’t. But I do now. Is it a coincidence that Dole bananas are looking a little riper in the supermarket these days?  

As I said before, we all make bad decisions now and again. These two bad decisions of epic proportions should make us all feel a little better about our own comparatively minor missteps.


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