Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

FedEx and tour bus, a deadly mix

27 Comments

This morning we all woke to the news that a FedEx semi crossed the center median of a freeway in California and collided with a tour bus filled with students touring college campuses.  At least ten people are dead.    The crash is being described in any number of ways, though this morning most of the focus is on the tour bus.  One of the headlines I found actually calls it a tour bus accident.   Of course tour bus accidents are as horrific as semi crashes and certainly are issues that need to be worked on.  But this was not a tour bus crash.

The news media is slow to mention that it all started with a semi crossing the center median.   That’s not the most news worthy aspect of this crash so it’s getting little press.  Rightfully we need to concentrate on the families of those killed and injured, on the students who were headed toward bright futures as college students who will never see another day, on the survivors who are traumatized, and on the drivers, both of the truck and the bus who were also killed.  But when things calm down we need to take a serious look at why that semi crossed the median in the first place.

There were two FedEx drivers.  Were they tired?  Were they distracted?  Did some medical event cause this traumatic crash?  Was speed involved?  How long had they been driving?  Or were they just avoiding something in their path?  This will not be an easy investigation as both drivers are dead.  It will, of course, be done, but you and I won’t hear the result.  By the time this investigation is complete the media will have moved on to the next horrific event.  Most of us won’t even remember this story a month from now.

And that’s how the trucking industry likes it.  If  investigators end up concluding that the semi was at fault, that rules were broken, allowable hours of service exceeded, texting happening, whatever the reason,  we won’t know, and if we don’t know the outragousness of this whole event will be lost and nothing will change, our roads won’t become safer, and truck companies will continue to profit at the expense of other drivers.  Somehow we need to convince the news media that there is more to the story than the initial crash details.  That there are many more important facts to uncover than how long the road will be closed to commuter traffic.

It’s hard to make a big noise when you’re only a small group of safety advocates.  It’s hard to get noticed when we aren’t splashy, or over the top.  It’s hard but it’s something we have to figure out how to do.

Soon.

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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.

27 thoughts on “FedEx and tour bus, a deadly mix

  1. I know that this is a subject that is close to your heart—-sometimes small voices can still be heard in the noise—-keep on keeping your voice out there.

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  2. Geez, you know, I listened to this story on the radio this morning, and they just used the word ‘truck’. I didn’t even realize it was a semi.

    An awful tragedy.

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  3. Dawn, you’re part of a whole big group. Do you have an official spokesperson? Could someone contact, say, NPR and “pitch” them this important, different, neglected angle? Worth a try, I’d say. Maybe Diane Rehm?

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    • You’re right PJ. I contacted the Executive Director of Truck Safety and our media person is working on pitching our issues in light of this tragedy. Some feel this is exploiting..and in some sense it is…but it’s also taking advantage of attention when it’s available to teach.

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      • “Exploiting” isn’t necessarily bad. It depends on what you’re exploiting and how. You’re right: you’re exploiting a “teachable moment,” and that’s always good and worthwhile.

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  4. I like that idea of P.J. Grath to contact NPR. I saw an article on the crash on an NPR blog, maybe writing them a comment would help? http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/04/11/301755828/tragedy-in-california-truck-hits-bus-full-of-students

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  5. I saw photos of this crash 😦 Regardless of fault/blame/etc, this is so sad. And I like PJ’s idea…you’d be the person to pitch it!

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  6. It wasn’t all the trucks fault this time – a car actually hit him first and he was trying to avoid hitting it again when he swerved to much and lost control – with the truck ending up crossing the lane and into the bus. Either way – it is yet another tragic loss of lives.

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    • In my heart I do hope it wasn’t entirely the FedEx driver’s fault. I’ve always held great respect for their drivers that I’ve met. Sadly the driver died too. Must have been terrifying for them all. My heart is breaking.

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  7. Pingback: One CRASH Board Member’s thoughts on the Deadly Orland Crash | Truck Safety CoalitionTruck Safety Coalition

  8. Hi Dawn,

    My name is David Meissner and I am both a truck driver and a programmer.

    I know that it is very tempting to view the trucking industry as merely profit seeking businesses that are less concerned about safety, but I have an opinion that I would like to share with you and ask you to consider.

    It is true that there are industry related companies that are highly concerned about profits and have even made the case that the FMCSA hours of service (HOS) rules are impacting their productivity. Even though there is truth to that, productivity should never be placed above safety.

    The truth in my opinion is that these companies should have rallied behind the fact that the current HOS rules contribute greatly to the fatalities that have occurred as a result of truck related accidents. They may have had a better chance of reversing these rules, but many of these company staffers have little experience with driving at all.

    It is highly likely that drivers involved in many of these accidents are driving within the HOS guidelines, but are driving while exhausted because they feel they have to. I know this to be true because I am a driver that faces this dilemma daily.

    I have a website that articulates the danger that the current HOS rules pose to drivers and the public and how the rules encourage irresponsible driving. On this website I also present some common sense alternatives to the current rules and a petition that I am asking people to sign in an effort to overhaul the current rules. I would like to bring this proposal to Congress, but I need people backing it up, which is why I have created this petition.

    I was wondering if you would please review the content on my site and let me know your thoughts. The website is as follows.

    HOS Overhaul
    http://www.hosoverhaul.com

    I hope you check this site out, put yourself in a driver’s shoes while reading it, and share your thoughts with me afterwards. Your response would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you for your time.

    David Meissner

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  9. The media lack of follow up bothers me a lot. I know the story is in the moment and rating are not made on follow up but it’s still an important part of covering the news.

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    • I always get upset when there are local crashes and all I can find out is how long the road will be closed. No one seems to be concerned about who got hurt or how bad. Just when the commute will get easier.

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  10. I was listening to NPR this morning, (Monday April 14) and their follow-up story was that there was to be an investigation on seatbelt usage of bus passengers, and on the use of emergency exit windows.
    I was dumbfounded – really? Would seatbelt usage of bus passengers made a significant difference in the outcome of the crash? Is implied fault being aimed at individual students who may not have been wearing seatbelts? Oh I hope not! This horrible thing is becoming a monster!

    Dad WAS wearing his lap and shoulder belt when he got killed. Dad’s urine sample was taken, but the semi truck driver’s urine sample was not taken.

    I know life is not fair, but the media should not take the focus off the big problem, by putting the focus some smaller issue.

    Remember the law abiding teenage girl who was the driver of a car stopped behind a school bus, who got rear ended by a semi truck? The media issue was her age — but the force of the truck killed her and her family in that vehicle. It would have made NO difference if she had been 21, or 30, or 40!

    Who feeds the media these side-bar issues?

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  11. I read Mr. Meissner’s web site. I agree that the Hours of Service (HOS) rules may need to change, but I strongly disagree with his proposed fix, and I will not sign his petition.

    His proposed fix is: “The proposed bill resembles the HOS rules as they existed prior to 2003, when drivers could maintain 10 hours of on duty status before going off duty for 8 hours, but simply extends both the on-duty and off-duty time by two hours each.”

    Allowing 12 hours of on duty status? I will NOT sign.

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    • Hi Beth,

      I have a response to your concerns, but it is so long that I decided to post it on my site for you and others to review. Please check it out at the following address.

      http://www.hosoverhaul.com/?p=msg

      Thanks.
      Dave

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    • The transportation industry is an intermediary type of industry between two other parties that operate with normal business hours. As a result we must be available during those hours and yet drive outside of this hours to be at another facility during their hours if operations. It takes its toll on a driver.

      When I proposed extending the driving time to 12 hours it was in conjunction with being able to split our on/off duty time so that we can get adequate rest. As it stands now, we are driving all hours at one shot with no rest.

      We may be driving legal, but we are driving tired. Not everyone can drive day in and day out, 11 hours at a time. If we could split our time like we used to, we could get 4 or 5 hour naps in between 5 or 6 hour driving shifts and be more alert and safe the whole day.

      That is the purpose of extending the time.

      Furthermore, there are days when we feel great and can drive more and other days where we can’t. Why not let is take advantage of the good days so we can rest on the not so good days.

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  12. This was a horrible accident for all involved. My son was on that bus and I thank god every day he survived. He was injured pretty badly and spent a week in the hospital most of the time in ICU. It’s been a year and a half and not a day goes by that I don’t think about this crash. Any time I see a fed ex truck or a big bus it brings back those memories of April 10,2014. To this day my son still suffers from this horrific crash and it breaks my heart to see him have to go through this. God bless all that were involved .

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    • I’m very sorry to hear about your child and I’m sorry for all the families impacted by this tragedy.

      Does anyone know if the truck driver was in compliance with his hours of service and if he was fatigued or tired?

      The current hours of service rules are dangerous to drivers and the public. Check out my site to understand why and sign the petition to overhaul them.

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    • I’m sorry your son was involved on that bus. This past week we had two survivors from that crash, Santiago Calderon and Michelle Lemus. They spoke at a press conference against larger trucks, and went to meetings to express the same feelings to individual legislators. If you and/or your son would like to become involved with the Truck Safety Coalition check out the website at trucksafety.org. Or you can email me at dawnkinster@gmail.com. Either way, I will hold you in my heart along with so many others killed and injured by large trucks.

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