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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-07-043
Synopsis: On Friday, July 16, 2004, about 12:00 p.m., a 1999 Sterling tractor towing a 1997 Great Dane semitrailer was part of a traffic queue moving slowly east on Interstate 94 (I-94), behind a 2004 Saturn station wagon approaching the Fletcher Road overpass near Chelsea, Michigan. The queue had formed following an earlier accident in the eastbound lanes of a highway maintenance zone. At the same time, a 2000 Kenworth tractor towing a 2000 Hyundai semitrailer, owned by Equity Transportation Company, Inc. (Equity), was traveling behind the queue on I-94, approaching the Fletcher Road overpass at a witness-estimated speed of 60 mph. The Kenworth driver failed to slow in time for the traffic queue ahead. A 115-foot preimpact skid mark indicated that the Kenworth driver applied the brakes and swerved to the right just before his truck collided with the Sterling’s semitrailer. The left front of his truck struck the right rear of the Sterling’s semitrailer, compressing the cab of the Kenworth about 6 feet to the rear, trapping and fatally injuring its driver. The impact propelled the Sterling tractor-semitrailer into the Saturn in front of it, resulting in minor injuries to the Sterling driver and to a passenger in the Saturn.
Recommendation: TO THE EQUITY TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC.: Implement a driver log review program that accounts for, tracks, and audits all modifications to paper logs and that also collects and retains all available electronic supporting documentation to verify driver compliance with Federal commercial driver hours-of-service regulations.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Chelsea, MI, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Accident #: hwy04mh031
Accident Reports: Rear-End Chain Reaction Collision, Interstate 94 East
Report #: HAB-07-01
Accident Date: 7/16/2004
Issue Date: 12/17/2007
Date Closed: 6/11/2013
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: Equity Transportation Company, Inc. (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Fatigue, Logbook

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: Equity Transportation Company, Inc.
Date: 6/11/2013
Response: We are pleased that you installed electronic log systems, trained your drivers (including owner operators) in their use, and provided installation and training information to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. We commend you for also improving Equity’s hours of service score in the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program. Equity’s actions satisfy Safety Recommendation H-07-43, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION. Thank you for your efforts to improve commercial transportation safety.

From: Equity Transportation Company, Inc.
Date: 4/1/2013
Response: -From Dave Ward, Equity Transportation Company: In February 2011 Equity Transportation Co Inc. approached it’s satellite message provider, Xata Corporation, with a request for information and costs (low to mid six figure dollars) on their promised electronic logging system. Since Equity already had Xata installed in its tractors, that move was deemed to be the quickest and cost efficient method available. After numerous delays and broken promises as to when the system could be made available, some test units were installed. The results and management of the system/drivers provided by Xata was found to be wholly unacceptable. Equity then approached two other providers, People Net System of Minneapolis and Qualcom of San Diego, with a request for side by side comparisons of their two systems. That comparison occurred in early June 2012.and a decision was reached in approximately early July 2012 to install solely the People Net System in all of the tractors operating under the Equity authority (owner operators included). In July 2012, Equity Transportation Co Inc. entered into an agreement with Federal Motor Carrier to provide information to them monthly as to the installation sequence and driver training of the electronic log system. Completion of the process was to occur by the end of March 2013. Commencing July 2012, reports were made monthly to FMCSA; Midwestern Service Center, Matteson IL and installation was completed as of the 3/18/13 report. Equity Transportation has agreed to provide installation and training monthly updates to FMCSA until July 2014. The People Net Electronic Log System addresses the issues raised in the NTSB Safety Recommendation and goes far beyond the requirements of current FMCSA hours of service rules. Each driver has the exact (GPS tracked) location noted on the electronic log whenever they change duty status on their on board computer monitor. This includes an automatic on-duty positioning when the tractor stops for 5 minutes. The log hours automatically start with any driver entered on-duty time (inspection) or automatically notes when the truck is moving and the location noted. The log continues expiring hours (the driver has a view of how many hours he/she has left to drive or work before a required break). The system also tracks how many hours have expired under the 70 hour rule. The drivers screen changes to a yellow when the driver is in the last one hour of an hours sequence and will turn pink if the driver violates the hours. Simply stated, a driver cannot claim ignorance as to how many hours were or are available on any trip. The system also shows, along with how many hours have expired on the 70 hour rule, how many hours the driver is ‘picking up’ at midnight on that night. That allows them to determine whether they can safety transport a load legally while delivering in a timely sequence. Along with the drivers having a source of constant monitoring of their hours, the Equity Transportation dispatchers have immediate access to every driver’s hours used, hours available and GPS tracked location. They can view a driver’s log for their rest or break status to determine their next hours availability. This allows for a completely verifiable legal dispatch instead of relying on a driver to ‘tell when they are on hours’. In addition to the driver and dispatcher knowing exactly where a driver is on the hours issue, the Equity safety department receives a hours violation report daily on drivers that operate over hours. Those drivers are contacted directly and required to explain their actions .Depending on the response, the driver may be reprimanded and/or terminated from Equity employment or possibly nothing may happen at all (re: use the 16 hour rule for short haul drivers). If an explanation is required a ‘remark’ is placed on the drivers electronic log by the safety department (re: adverse driving over 11 hours due to traffic accident backup). Any FMCSA officer can view the drivers electronic logs as they will and can, upon asking, receive a print copy of the logs. The simple step of immediate review and accurate time and locations has allowed for a dramatic drop in HOS basic CSA score from a high of 79.8 (over threshold) to the current 61 (under threshold). Probably even more impressive and directly to the point is the drop in the crash CSA basic score from a high of 93.4 (over threshold) to the current 65 (at threshold). These drops are verifiable over a 2 year period by our continuous monthly tracking of the CSA scores. In conclusion, we have expended thousands of dollars and great deal of time to incorporate electronic logs into our process. We have suffered the loss of drivers who simply refuse to be held accountable for running compliant by use of electronic logs. With all of those things in mind, Equity Transportation has concluded that electronic logs are the best solution for a safe operation of the company’s business and would make the same decision again.

From: NTSB
To: Equity Transportation Company, Inc.
Date: 3/13/2013
Response: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation?highway, marine, pipeline, and railroad. We determine the probable cause of the accidents we investigate and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future accidents. In addition, we conduct special studies concerning transportation safety and coordinate the resources of the federal government and other organizations to provide assistance to victims and their family members impacted by major transportation disasters. This letter addresses Safety Recommendation H-07-43, which we issued to the Equity Transportation Company, Inc. (Equity), on December 17, 2007, as a result of our investigation of the July 16, 2004, rear-end chain reaction collision on Interstate 94 East near Chelsea, Michigan. To date, we have received no information regarding Equity’s actions to address Safety Recommendation H-07-43 and would appreciate receiving a reply regarding any actions that you have either taken or planned to address this important safety issue. We are interested in knowing whether and how our recommendations are implemented, both to ensure the public the highest level of safety and to identify creative solutions that can be shared with others. A copy of our December 17, 2007, letter issuing Safety Recommendation H-07-43 is enclosed for your convenience; it can also be found on our website at The full NTSB report of the Chelsea, Michigan, accident investigation (Report Number HAB-07/01) is available on our website at