Tragedy underscores urgent need for effective driver coaching, HoS compliance
A few members of the InSight team live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and if asked would probably remember a terrible tragedy that occurred in the small town of Wye Mills a year ago January. An 18-wheeler tractor trailer ran a red light in the early morning hours on January 10, 2015, striking a 2006 Subaru Forenza and killing all five passengers – an entire family, plus a friend they were traveling with.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario more nightmarish than this, but when charges were filed against the driver of the truck (and his company) just this week, a new layer was added to the horrific nature of this story: this was an accident that absolutely could have, and should have, been prevented – had the company been using technology and tools to monitor this driver’s behavior and hours spent driving.
The list of charges (which was just published this week) underscores just how critically important it is for organizations to protect the safety of not only their employees, but other drivers on the road, by taking responsibility for monitoring driver activity:
Failure to control speed to avoid collision, contributing to a fatal crash
Negligent driving, which contributed to a fatal crash
Driving a commercial vehicle with inadequate brake linings, contributing to a fatal crash
Driving a commercial vehicle after being on duty for 70 hours in eight consecutive days, contributing to a fatal crash
Driver of a commercial vehicle preparing a falsified record of duty status, which contributed to a fatal crash
Driver of property carrying vehicle driving after 14 hours of having come on duty without 10 hours off duty, contributing to a fatal crash
Driver of property carrying vehicle driving after having driven 11 hours without 10 hours off duty, contributing to a fatal crash
Complaints about the upcoming Federal regulations requiring that vehicles of certain sizes and classes measure Hours of Service using Electronic Driver Logs (EDL) are very common, especially among drivers. But when you read about a terrible, preventable tragedy like this one – or the better known case involving the comedian Tracy Morgan and a Wal-Mart truck – you can certainly see why such laws are necessary.
That list of charges should haunt any business or fleet owner who’s responsible for large trucks operating on our roadways. Failure to invest in technology that can monitor driver behavior, alert management when violations occur, provide opportunities for coaching and keep track of hours spent driving not only puts private citizens at risk, but also their own employees and company as a whole.