Preventable or not?

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Volvo Trucks North America has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it voluntarily would recall about 42,000 Volvo VN and VHD model trucks manufactured from November 2002 to January 2006 and equipped with the Volvo D12D engine. The truck and engine maker found that inlet pipes connecting the exhaust gas recirculation valve to the cooler could crack or break; if the pipes are not repaired, the air cleaner and inner fender could be subject to damage from hot exhaust gases. No one has been injured, Volvo said. Letters were sent to all affected truck owners telling them what precautions to take, and how to obtain the repair.

International Truck and Engine is recalling International 5000 and International 9000 trucks from model years 2004 and 2005 that have Caterpillar engines – 1,371 trucks in all. NHTSA issued the recall in December because on certain engines, the variable valve actuation oil line could wear against the cylinder head and break the line if not positioned correctly; an oil leak and fire could result. Caterpillar and International will fix affected trucks free; owners may call Caterpillar at 309-675-6496 or International at 800-448-7825.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Form 300A – a summary of total job-related injuries and illnesses in 2005 – must be submitted to the agency by April 30. Companies with 10 or fewer employees are exempt unless they experience one or more fatalities or the Bureau of Labor Statistics asks them to participate in their annual survey. Copies of Form 300A are available at this site.

Even though the Super Bowl had been played a month ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Seattle Seahawks still was the hottest lunch topic in the back booth at the Pacific View Truck Stop. “Man, Seattle threw that game away,” said bummed-out local driver Slim Plumpton, who’d lost a lunch bet over the game in a friendly wager with long-hauler Luke Darstader. “It’s about time you paid up,” joked Darstader, a Steelers fan who conveniently neglected to mention it was his cross-country driving schedule that kept the two pals from settling up until now.

Tractor-trailer driver John Doe, finishing off his last forkful of lemon custard pie, laughed along with his two friends that he’d met when they all worked for the same carrier years ago. These days it wasn’t often they could get together to swap tall tales about their latest trucking exploits, and Doe often wished he hadn’t job-hopped as much as he had. True, those sign-on bonuses helped pay off a few bills, he thought to himself, but maybe it was time to stay with the same company, start accumulating some benefits and maybe even get a steady, 40-hour-a-week job at – gasp! – the terminal.

A couple of hours later, Doe – who couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of putting on a tie – was northbound along a scenic stretch on California’s four-lane limited-access Coastview Highway with an empty intermodal container in tow. Suddenly, the gusty crosswinds – common to that area – increased dramatically, and Doe realized there was no opportunity to seek shelter. He pulled into the right lane and decelerated to 30 mph from the posted limit of 55 mph. Whoosh! A 70-mph gust broadsided Doe’s container and