Crisis On the Highways White Paper
As most of you know, I spent many years in healthcare billing and consulting. While I still have consulting clients in that realm, I am also the driver of a semi-tractor-trailer truck. Unlike many, I drive the speed limit and am a very safe, cautious driver. Every day, I witness semi drivers and other drivers who either don’t care about or don’t understand how their driving impacts others on the road. I wrote and am submitting this white paper to law enforcement agencies, senators, congress representatives and organizations that are interested in keeping our roads safe.
Goals and Objectives
The goal of this document is to present solutions that will help to resolve the Crisis on the Highways – the staggering number of unnecessary accidents and deaths as a result of drivers who refuse to obey the traffic laws. To solve this problem, attitudes about driving need to change drastically. Driving is not a right. It is a privilege. Every driver needs to promote and be responsible for safe driving on the roads and highways.
Actions Needed Now
Continuing education for all drivers
More aggressive policies to enable police to ticket drivers exceeding the speed limit (no more 10 mph over the speed limit leniency) and those who are tailgating
More police to patrol the highways
Stricter cell phone laws to reduce driver distraction
Implement the “Smith” System of safe driving for all drivers
Arguments for Immediate Action
I’m from Union Kentucky and am the driver of a semi-tractor-trailer truck. Unlike many, I drive the speed limit and am a very safe, cautious driver. Every day, I witness semi drivers and other drivers who either don’t care about or don’t understand how their driving impacts others on the road.
There was news coverage about a recent highway crash where a passing truck struck a group of marine veteran motorcycle riders and tragically killed 7 of them. This should never have happened.
The highways seem lawless – just like the “Old West”. There is no order. About 15% to 20% appear to be driving “ok” but not great. I don’t have to offer statistics from the insurance companies who are paying out billions of dollars each year in replacement, repair and short-and long-term disabilities. Death statistics are staggering. Fifty percent of the accidents could be prevented just by changing the mindset about tailgating. Why are drivers continually tailgating tractor trailers? It is obvious they need an education regarding what happens if they hit the under-ride bars on the rear of a semi.
I recently saw an electronic sign in Ohio that that said there were over 287 deaths already in Ohio in 2019. Tragically, that is almost 3 auto deaths per day.
I have observed that if you drive these highways, especially between the 6:00am and 9:00 am rush hour, you will see that:
Average speed in 65 mph posted speed zones is about 75 to 90 plus
Average speed in 55 mph posted speed zones is about 65 to 75 plus
The left lane or high-speed lane on any freeway looks like the Daytona 500 race. Yes, I believe the drivers learn from these races and mimic the speeding, clustering and tailgating. Just look at all the auto advertising on television and streaming devices.
Federal Express, UPS and private truck driver owners (they are not governed) are constantly speeding, clustering and tailgating. Why are they driving in the left lane?
Why should innocent people suffer injury or die due to careless people breaking the law? We need a paradigm shift to reduce this crisis on America’s roads and highways. I cannot solve the crisis, but I should be able to influence Ohio and Kentucky where I do most of my driving. If we make necessary changes and enforce the law, perhaps over time, other states may adopt these necessary changes simply because the loss of life will be reduced as will the insurance cost.
Allow me to offer the following solutions.
Lobby the state to amend the driving rules to include the “Smith” System as part of the initial training to obtain a driver’s license for all passenger and other driver license requirements. CDL training programs should teach and use the “Smith” system. This should be part of the testing program as well. The privilege of driving needs the same attention businesses demand of employees to attend continuing education to maintain a professional license (i.e., nurse, CPA, etc.).
All drivers should be required to re-certify their license every 3 years with the “Smith” System as the core training tool. Yes, they should pay a fee, watch a video, read the materials online and take an online test.
Lobby the state to outlaw use of cell phones unless using a hands-free device. Texting at any time while operating a vehicle should be outlawed. Failure to comply should result in both a fine and driver’s license suspension.
Insurance and trucking companies should combine resources to hire a group of unmarked police cars that do nothing but drive around and film events on the roads and highways. Perhaps the insurance companies could help fund the cost. Unsafe drivers would be reported to the companies and state authorities. Kentucky could be the site of a pilot program.
Enforce the required truck/car spacing on highways.
Prevent truck drivers from exceeding the speed limit and driving in the left lane other than to legally pass another vehicle. In my experience, double trailers, Federal Express, UPS and private truck owners are the worst offenders.
Prevent semi-trucks from passing another semi-truck (unless that truck is driving under speed limit.
There is a regulation that states semi-trucks cannot park on the side of the highway. Police are not enforcing this and need to do so. It’s very dangerous.
Penalize all vehicles for rolling through stop signs when exiting the highways. There is no such thing as a real stop sign anymore.
The speed limit for construction on the highway should be 25 mph, and appropriate signage needs to be announced beginning one mile before the construction with signs every quarter mile to remind drivers to reduce speed to 25mph in all lanes. Enforce this speed limit.
Tinted windshields and front seat windows need to be outlawed. They are dangerous.
We need more police enforcing the laws. Speed limits should be speed limits – and 10 mph over the limit should not be allowed.
Next Steps by December 31, 2019
Acknowledge the problems and form a committee to be responsible for initiating a process to implement and oversee this program ongoing.
Determine who will be responsible for the various components of the program.
Outline a long-term implementation plan and timeframe.