Preventable or not?

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has decided against a rulemaking regarding the responsibilities for the inspection, repair and maintenance of intermodal container chassis and trailers. The agency said data concerning the relationship between the mechanical condition of the vehicles and commercial motor vehicle accidents is insufficient to quantify the extent to which vehicle condition contributes to accidents. (Docket No. 3656)

FMCSA announced that beginning Jan. 1, 2004, all safety inspections, audits and compliance reviews will be conducted by FMCSA or state employees who are either certified under regulations issued in 2002 or qualified under the grandfather provisions of 49 U.S.C. 31148(b). (Docket Nos. 15642 and 11060)

Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines lost their bids for exemptions to manage drug and alcohol testing of commercial driver’s license drivers and non-CDL drivers in the same pools. FMCSA said that management of two pools is relatively common and easily managed and that the carriers had not demonstrated how their plan would achieve a level of safety equal to or better than that achieved by complying with the regulations. (Docket No. 14911)

Department of Transportation amended the drug and alcohol testing regulations of its agencies, including FMCSA, to incorporate references to the new one-page Management Information System forms. (Docket No. 13435)

For more on docketed items, visit this site and search the applicable docket number.

It was midday, and John Doe was headed in his tractor-trailer for a lunch stop at a local pizza restaurant. He was stopped on a two-lane parkway, awaiting an opportunity to make a left turn into the parking lot. Drizzle dominated the scene as he decided to order extra cheese, pepperoni and a diet soda. He waited until traffic cleared except for a sports car far off in the distance in the oncoming lane.
Doe came up on the clutch, accelerated as it locked up, and then quickly grabbed second gear to get his speed just right for a brisk but controlled trip through the turn at an ideal 8 mph. Soon, he was rolling into the parking lot and beginning to slow.
It was later revealed that the driver of the sports car stomped on the gas just about the time Doe began cranking his wheel for the turn. The driver had been eager to slip through a traffic light that had just turned red.

As Doe began slowing and lining himself up for a parking spot, he heard a telltale crunch far behind him. The sports car’s driver had built up quite a bit of speed to get through the light. She had kept that speed up in hopes of moving past her next obstacle, namely Doe’s trailer, as it rapidly headed into the lot. The driver had been gunning for a quick trip around the trailer’s back end mainly to get through a green light not far past Doe. But she had miscalculated her velocity by just a bit, and her right/front fender collided with the right/rear corner of Doe’s trailer. The automobile driver suffered no serious injury to her, but the trailer and car hood were both damaged.

The police officer on the scene, having grown tired of truck drivers turning there in haste, issued a citation to Doe for “failure to yield right of way.” To add insult to injury, the fleet safety director accepted the cop’s view of things and issued the predictable warning letter saying the accident had been preventable.

Doe was livid and contested the decision by asking the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee to take a look. Their investigation revealed that the sports car was at a more than respectable distance when Doe decided it was safe to turn and began his maneuver. They ruled in his favor since there was no way for him to know the sports car’s erratic driver would suddenly decide to speed up. n