Preventable or not?

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in a Federal Register notice published Sept. 2 exempted four individuals from its rule prohibiting persons with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus from operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The exemptions – the first granted since FMCSA implemented the exemption program two years ago – will allow these individuals to qualify as drivers of CMVs in interstate commerce. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 20721.

PINOVA, a maker of refined pale wood rosin, is seeking an exemption from FMCSA’s commodity-specific cargo securement rules for logs and stumps on the grounds that the regulations prevent the company and its motor carriers from using more efficient and effective methods. The exemption was filed on behalf of 29 motor carriers that transport short lightered wood logs and stumps from various points in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama to PINOVA’s plant in Brunswick, Ga. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 21685.

Florida State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol shut down a Jacksonville commercial licensing school known as Truck Driver Placement on Aug. 25, arresting businessmen David Luck and Arthur Hammonds for unlawful driver’s license issuance and organized scheme to defraud. Instead of testing potential drivers by having them drive a “technically challenging course,” the men had students drive the equivalent of a city block, the State Attorney’s Office told the Jacksonville Times-Union.

Virginia Department of Transportation in late August fined at least 11 truck drivers for attempting to enter Virginia’s Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel with too-tall vehicles. State troopers ticketed violators, and municipal court fines tended to be $90, although the maximum fee allowed is $500, said Jim Harrison, manager of the Interstate 64 bridge-tunnel complex for VDOT.

“I’ve had it!” John Doe exclaimed to himself as he pulled his tractor-trailer away from Bob’s Truck Stop with a full tank – and an empty wallet. “I can’t afford these diesel prices anymore!” Granted, the high cost of filling up wasn’t quite as ridiculous as it had been in early September – at the height of the post-Hurricane Katrina fuel supply interruption. But Doe still thought that way too much of his hard-earned money was flowing through the pump.

“Oh well, things will get better soon,” Doe mused to himself as he resumed his regular-route run of hardware supplies to the distribution facility for the House HQ megastore chain. “They’d better, or I may have to sell this ol’ rig.” But Doe – basking in the warmth of the morning sun – loved his freedom and privacy on the highway, and he hated to think he couldn’t afford to keep it up.

After exiting the freeway, Doe prepared to turn right onto Industrial Park Place at the next traffic light, the same turn he’d executed hundreds of times in the past. Doe was not aware, however, that municipal workers recently had repaired – and, in their haste to get the job done, illegally lowered – the overhanging traffic signal. Halfway through the turn – WHAM! SMASH! – the top edge of Doe’s trailer struck the light pole, causing it to fall to the ground.

A city crew quickly repaired the red light, but Doe’s face turned even redder with anger when he received a warning letter from his safety director, who charged him with a preventable accident. Doe quickly contacted his usual acquaintances at the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Accident Review Committee to contest the ruling and resolve the issue. NSC immediately ruled in Doe’s favor, noting that there was no visible change in overhead clearance; his trailer sat no higher than usual; he was familiar with the intersection; and his trailer wheels had not climbed the curb.