Preventable or not?

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seeking medical examiners who currently perform physical exams for commercial drivers to complete a survey related to the development of the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. For more information, go to this site.

Twenty-six percent of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to The Road Information Program (TRIP), a national nonprofit that advocates road construction. Jurisdictions earning bad grades from TRIP for their high percentage of deficient or obsolete bridges include the Michigan cities of Detroit (41 percent) and Lansing (33 percent) and the states of New Hampshire (32 percent) and Mississippi (20 percent).

Federal Highway Administration published its final notice on the Interstate Oasis Program without specifying the number of truck parking spaces necessary to qualify, leaving states to determine the number of spaces. The program will direct travelers to public or private “interstate oases” within three miles of an exit; such oases must have restrooms, drinking water, round-the-clock staffing, food, fuel and oil, as well as free well-lighted parking. For more information, go to this site and search Docket No. 23550.

Three New York City area transportation authorities are conducting truck parking studies that will lead to a final report assessing the adequacy of truck parking in the metropolitan areas. More information is available at www.njrest.org, www.ctrestareas.org and www.nymtc.org.

John Doe was towing an empty dry van behind his 1989 conventional tractor (“I can’t believe this thing’s still running,” Doe mused), and he knew from long experience that a tractor without ABS pulling an ABS-less empty trailer made for unbalanced braking. Seeing dark clouds gathering in the sky between himself and his destination, he crossed his fingers and hoped the wet weather would hold off until he reached his pickup destination. No such luck: Within seconds, rain sprinkles began hitting Doe’s windshield.

“Oh, well,” Doe thought. “I would have been there early, anyway, so I’ll just take it easy.” He dropped his speed to 35 mph – well below the posted 50 mph speed limit on the level, four-lane road – to keep his rig stable and minimize his stopping distance in case something unexpected occurred. Soon, Doe approached a signal-controlled right turn; the light remained green as he neared the intersection. Then Doe noticed a brand-new 2007 BMW Roadster traveling toward him in the opposite direction that appeared to stop in the signal-controlled left-turn lane. Suddenly, the driver – Maryland Tech freshman Josh Van der Slam IV – insanely jetted through the red left-turn light, right in front of Doe!

The good news was that Doe was able to stop quickly enough to completely yield the right of way to the impatient Van der Slam; the bad news was that the ensuing jackknife caused $5,000 worth of damage to the cab corner and trailer fender skirt. No one was hurt, and Doe was confident he had nothing to worry about, given his conservative running speed and Van der Slam’s unpredictable maneuver.

Much to Doe’s surprise, he soon received a preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director. Doe, who appealed to the National Safety Council’s accident review committee, was stunned when the committee upheld the ruling because it determined that he was “driving too fast for conditions” because he “failed to anticipate the car might attempt to run the red light, which forced him to take evasive action, resulting in equipment damage.”


FMCSA offers safety product guidelines
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has published on its website a series of product guides to assist motor carriers interested in learning more about available onboard safety and security systems. FMCSA says the listing of information and vendors does not constitute an endorsement. To view the product guides, select “Facts & Research” at the top of the FMCSA homepage, and then “Product Guides” under “Systems Technology” along the left navigation bar.