Here’s some good news that we’re not hearing enough about: in 2010, there was not a single fatality in the U.S. airline industry. No one died – no passenger fatalities – none. That’s a great accomplishment, in and of itself, but it gets better: U.S. airlines also had zero passenger fatalities in 2007 and 2008.
Unfortunately, there cannot be a four year clean sweep, because in 2009 there was the tragic loss of 50 lives. These fatalities were all from a single accident, on February 12, 2009, when a Colgan Air Bombardier Q400 turboprop crashed into a Buffalo, New York, neighborhood, killing everyone on board and one man on the ground.
Bottom line, one fatal plane crash in four years is an excellent and commendable safety record for the American airline industry – and they should be applauded much more than they are for this amazing accomplishment. Kudos.
And, in that applause, due respect must be given to the increased governmental safety regulations that were implemented and which have resulted in this wonderful achievement. It must be acknowledged that one of the primary reasons that we’ve only seen one fatal plane crash of the U.S. Airlines in all this time is because of regulations that have been passed and enforced by the federal government. Agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board must share in these accolades.
Which brings us to the current attempts by regulators to increase the safety of the trucking industry and all the criticism of this endeavor.
CSA 2010 is the federal government’s program to make commercial trucking safer. The big trucking companies are very unhappy about these new regulations, complaining that it will destroy their profitability, force truck drivers to seek other careers, yadda yadda yadda — you get the idea.
For example, in December 2010 new hours of service (HOS) regulations were unveiled — read them here at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website — not to undermine the trucking industry, but to make sure that truckers are getting enough rest and sleep and time away from the wheel. Sleepy, tired truck drivers are dangerous to themselves and to those with whom they share the road. By regulating how much drive time they can have before taking a break is important. It can save lives.
The trucking industry is crying out in protest of these new HOS regulations – as well as all of CSA 2010 – because it decreases profitability, increases costs, etc. They need to have those trucks moving as much as possible to make their money. Cut back on trucker road time, you hit their essence – it’s understandable that these companies are not going quietly into that good night.
Still, we have hopes that the federal regulatory agencies will eventually corral the complaints, via the courtroom if need be, and things will settle down in the trucking industry so sometime in the future — hopefully the near future — we can see trucking industry statistics similar to those that the U.S. airline industry enjoys today. It’s doable, and it’s needed.