Preventable or not?

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U.S. Department of Transportation announced a new outreach effort of its Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership to encourage truckers to wear safety belts. The message – “Be Ready. Be Buckled” – will be promoted through public service announcements and posters, brochures and other printed materials posted at truck stops, carrier terminals and other locations.

Prime Inc. has partnered with the Missouri Motor Carriers to distribute an audio CD that will train drivers on how to be part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Highway Watch program. Prime is the state’s first carrier to use this training format.

South Carolina Trucking Association presented Bunch Transport with its top safety award. Bunch – based in Charleston, S.C. – is a general commodities motor carrier serving 48 states. Superior Transportation Inc., based in Charleston, was named most improved for its accident reduction efforts.

DriveCam Video Systems has introduced the DriveCam Illuminator, an infrared lighting device that brightens images captured by the dual-lens DriveCam video event recorder. The Illuminator ensures that images of a vehicle’s interior captured in low light conditions are clearly visible.

American Trucking Associations has endorsed J.J. Keller & Associates’ Driver Qualification Service, which provides for the auditing and electronic retention of driver qualification files in accordance with the regulatory requirements of Part 391 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

“Man, a tank of gas sure costs a bunch these days!” an irritated John Doe fumed to himself while pulling his tractor-trailer out of the truck stop and back onto four-lane Midwest Memorial Parkway. While checking his mirrors, he immediately took notice of the reckless, full-throttle, fish-tailing approach of a solid black, 1990s-style Ford Mustang in his West Coast mirror. “Nice set of wheels,” Doe mused, almost in envy. “But I bet that car’s gas mileage is as bad as mine.”

At that moment, Doe was toeing the center line, preventing traffic from passing him, in anticipation of making a wide left turn onto two-lane Route 66 at an intersection a city block ahead. In retrospect, John had plenty of time to slow down and pull over – to let Dallas Van Dorman’s 5.0L V8 soar past him – before playing road hog again. But, alas, he opted not to.

By now, the street rod was only inches from Doe’s ICC bar, with its engine revving high with impatient frustration. Seventeen-year-old Van Dorman, who also wanted to turn left, was not thrilled about his path being blocked.

As Doe began his turn – initially cutting into the left lane of the two-lane road, en route to the right lane – Van Dorman totally lost his cool and, using the horsepower at his command, tried to pass to the right of the big rig. Smash! The trailer’s right-side tandem had struck (and seriously rumpled) the black Mustang’s front bumper! “Dag-nab-it!” said a disbelieving Doe, who definitely wasn’t getting his kicks on Route 66.

Since Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, claiming that Van Dorman’s stupidity caused the incident, the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Accident Review Committee was asked to resolve the dispute. To Doe’s dismay, NSC upheld the “preventable” ruling, noting that he should have let the impetuous teen pass his rig. Instead, the NSC ruled, John had goaded Van Dorman into a “suicidal” maneuver by blocking both lanes.