Preventable or not?

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has withdrawn two rulemakings regarding the use of biometric identifiers on commercial driver’s licenses. The Transportation Security Administration is developing a Transportation Worker Identification Credential that will incorporate biometric identifiers, and FMCSA said it did not want to cause a conflict in standards or impose an undue burden on states by imposing two different standards. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 20043.

FMCSA issued an interim final rule conforming its regulations regarding the issuance or renewal of commercial driver’s licenses with hazardous materials endorsements with Transportation Security Administration regulations requiring a security threat assessment on hazmat endorsements. For more information, visit this site and search Docket. 11117.

A public meeting concerning a National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners is scheduled for June 22 in Arlington, Va. If established, the NRCME would be a database of medical examiners certified by FMCSA or a third party to conduct driver medical examinations. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 20105.

Final report on FMCSA’s Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 Listening Sessions is now available on the agency’s website.

On a hotter-than-usual summer morning, with a dry-freight trailer in tow beneath a cloudless, blue sky, trucker John Doe munched on the breakfast burrito he’d just bought at the truck stop where his dispatcher had urged him to spend the night. Doe wished he could have driven further the night before, because he still was at least six hours from Hutchinson, Kan., where he was hauling his load of building supplies. But his dispatcher had known Doe nearly was out of hours for the day, and that after that truck stop, there was nothing but four-lane highway for the next 100 miles or so.

But Doe now was glad he’d pulled over when he did, because he’d slept rock-solid through the night and was feeling great – so great, in fact, that he didn’t mind driving in the middle of nowhere and not being able to tune in a halfway-decent radio station. So Doe just stuck his new Larry the Cable Guy CD into the player, hit “repeat play” and laughed all the way down the interstate.

When Doe got closer to Hutchinson, he exited the interstate to avoid traffic. Later, he was rolling along in the far-right lane of Jayhawk Boulevard and quickly was approaching the traffic-signal-controlled intersection with Yellowbrick Road, a divided, six-lane highway. While the light ahead was green, Doe cautiously slowed down before entering the intersection, and managed to pass two, car-occupied lanes of Yellowbrick before … “What the heck!” Doe exclaimed. “That idiot is gonna … Ahhhh!” Whammo!

Alas, despite an attempted panic stop, Doe’s tractor had broadsided a brand-new silver-colored, 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 convertible driven by young hotshot physician Thorne Carmichael, who’d insanely decided he had to run the red light if he was going to make his tee time.

When Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Accident Review Committee was asked to resolve the dispute. NSC immediately ruled in Doe’s favor, noting that he’d slowed down before entering the intersection and had braked hard when the other vehicle came into view. It was impossible for Doe to have seen, or anticipated, the arrival of the ill-fated Mercedes.