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TDMST Weekly Round-Up: 2019.05.04

This is the TDMST Weekly Round-Up of news affecting professional truck drivers, written by Vicki Simons for the week ending May 4, 2019.

We welcome your comments, thoughts and feedback on the items of your choice below.

 

TDMST Weekly Round-Up

1. Regarding the fatal truck crash near Denver:

Many news outlets, trucking websites and social media channels have been abuzz ever since a trucker crashed into traffic near Denver, Colorado, on April 25, 2019.

First, we express our condolences to the families of the 4 people who died as a result of this crash.

Many questions have surfaced, some of which have been answered since the crash occurred.

This article states that the trucker has been "charged with 40 counts -- most of them felonies -- for his role in a 28 vehicle pileup crash on I-70 near Lakewood, Colorado, that killed four men".

A list of the specific charges ranges from vehicular homicide by reckless driving to vehicular assault by reckless driving, and from first-degree assault to violent crime causing death or serious bodily injury.

Bail was set at $400,000.

Other articles about the crash are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

A road sign advising truck drivers of a one mile steep grade near Port Matilda Hill, this one instructing truck drivers to reduce gears for a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.Descending a mountain grade in a truck is a very serious matter and we have addressed Hot Brakes or Worse: Improperly Driving Downhill in a Big Truck on our site.

There are some good tips about safely descending mountain grades or "killer hills".

One website lists steep mountain grades where runaway truck crashes have been analyzed.

That site also covers truck driving standards and reminds folks that the "Required knowledge" that truckers must have is covered under 49 CFR § 383.111.


Two parts of that required knowledge include:

  • (14)Emergency maneuvers. and
  • (19)Mountain driving.

I also share some thoughts in point #2 below.

 

2. Regarding taking a runaway truck ramp:

Just one day after a trucker didn't take a runaway truck ramp and ended up causing a 28-vehicle pileup that killed 4 people (in point #1 above), another trucker chose to take a runaway truck ramp in Colorado.

A video showing what happened was recorded and embedded in this April 30, 2019, article.

Another article covering the runaway truck ramp episode is here.

I wrote the following within a Facebook group about the trucker taking his truck into the runaway truck ramp:

... Please note: One of the regional trucking companies for which my husband Mike Simons once worked stated that if one of their drivers ever took a runaway truck ramp, he or she would be fired.

It is very important to
- have truck brakes correctly adjusted and
- learn how to properly descend a mountain grade.

Please be safe!

One of the group administrators replied, "...fired for taking a ramp? Would they rather have them kill people???"

I further replied:

Thanks for sharing.
I think [the trucking company's] rationale is that they expect drivers to keep their brakes correctly adjusted and descend grades properly.
While they had mechanics in their shop to adjust brakes, I don't recall that they had any refresher training on how to descend mountain grades.
Honest question: what if a truck with otherwise correctly adjusted brakes experienced mechanical failure beyond a driver's control?
Threatening a driver with his or her job for not taking a runaway truck ramp when it is truly needed, in my opinion, is as wrong-headed (even if not on the same par as):
- threatening to punish a driver for doing a hard-brake (which, depending on the circumstances, could prevent a fatality); and
- saying that every truck accident is preventable (when it has been proven that many truck accidents are the fault of the driver of the other vehicle).
I think some of the folks who work in trucking company safety departments have no actual trucking experience and hence no clue what some truckers face.
{Sigh!}

 

3. Regarding trucking companies that suddenly shut down:

According to this article, Falcon Transport "suddenly ceased operations" of its 700-truck fleet on April 26, with the following fallout:

  • Drivers were stranded without jobs, paychecks, fuel and transportation home;
  • Millions of dollars of freight was stranded in various places; and
  • Brokers and insurers had not received some payments.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the company by drivers and other employees, for allegedly violating the WARN Act.

One ray of hope has been the outpouring of help from various sectors of the trucking community, including:

  • one company executive who learned of the shutdown just like other company truckers had;
  • other trucking companies which have offered to help former Falcon drivers find meals and the means to get home;
  • Meals for 18 Wheels (Facebook group), which has offered meals for the stranded truckers; and
  • at least one trucking company and one trucking association, which have offered to help the drivers find other trucking jobs.

I also offered help for Falcon drivers in our area.

News about Falcon Transport's shutdown was also covered here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Also, on May 1, Williams Trucking LLC based out of Dothan, Alabama, announced they were shutting down.

We encourage every trucker to have enough money saved up in his or her emergency fund to get home from one side of the country to the other.

One of the unanswered questions regarding any sudden trucking company shutdown is:

What happens to a trucker's DAC report if he/she is told to abandon a truck?

Hmm...

 

4. Regarding cargo security helps:

In the news this week were these two articles about helping to prevent cargo theft:

 

5. Regarding Hours of Service overhaul:

According to reports here, here, here, here and here, the U.S. Department of Transportation and FMCSA anticipate releasing the proposed revised Hours of Service regulations for truckers on June 7.

Let's hope the proposed revision provides some commonsense flexibility for truckers.

 

6. Regarding repealing a 102-year-old truck tax:

According to a May 1, 2019, article, two Congressmen have introduced the "Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2019" (H.R. bill 2381), that would "repeal the federal excise tax (FET) levied on most new heavy-duty trucks and trailers."

This is a "12 percent excise tax [that] generally adds between $12,000 to $22,000 to the cost of a new truck purchase."

If you agree with this bill, please contact:

News about this bill was also covered here and here.

 

7. Regarding CVSA's 2019 events:

"Operation Safe Driver Week" is run by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) annually.

This year's event will be held from July 14 to 20 "with a focus on speeding", according to this source.

Other articles about this are here, here, here, here and here.

Separately, CVSA's International Roadcheck is scheduled for June 4-6, according to this article.

 

8. Regarding a trucker killed by his own truck:

A May 2, 2019, article reported, "Police believe that Perry was underneath his trailer making an adjustment to the rear tires when the trailer somehow shifted, leaving Perry pinned underneath."

Another article reported this fatality.

If you're going to get under your trailer to inspect or adjust anything, make sure that ahead of time, you:

  • chock(*) your tires (both tractor and trailer tires is ideal); and
  • put a sign on the steering wheel not to move the truck.

I suggest that the sign reads something like:

TRUCKER UNDER TRUCK!
DO NOT DRIVE!

 

9. Regarding raised bed trucks striking bridges:

On April 30, the driver of a dump truck was traveling in the Cleveland area with his bed in the raised position and struck a pedestrian bridge!

If you drive a vehicle or haul a trailer that can raise its bed:

  • before you travel, make sure that the bed has been lowered; and

  • when you're traveling, periodically check your mirrors to make sure that the bed stays in the lowered position.

 

10. Regarding self defense:

Don't use wasp spray as a means of defending yourself from people.

One trucker did and now he faces assault charges.

 

11. Regarding big outlays of trucking company cash:

Every time I read about trucking companies that pay out millions of dollars for something preventable, I can't help but think that that money could have been paid to truckers.

Among the most recent cases involved:

The Golden Rule still reads: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Just saying.

 

My husband Mike and I wish you -- and all professional truck drivers -- safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.






* Chocks are intended to be placed in front of or behind a tire to prevent the unit from moving in that direction.

The following type of chock is available from Amazon.com, with which we have an affiliate relationship.











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