Preventable or not?

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Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established the Commercial Driver’s License Advisory Committee to implement a congressional mandate for a task force to study the CDL program and recommend measures to improve the program’s effectiveness. For more information, visit this site and search Docket No. 24925.

Motor Transport Association of Connecticut has requested the voluntary rerouting of twin-trailer combinations during winter storms. The state Department of Transportation says sections of Interstate 84 have experienced problems with twins in snowy or icy conditions. Call 860-594-3447 for weather information.

Danny Herman Trucking received the Tennessee Trucking Association’s Grand Champion Award for safety for the fifth consecutive year. The Mountain City, Tenn.-based carrier also took first place in the TTA Fleet Safety Award for the 0-3 million mile truckload category, also for the fifth consecutive year. The carrier also took third place this year in the American Trucking Associations’ National Truck Safety Contest.

KLLM Transport Services received the annual Great West Risk Management Platinum Award for Safety and Operational Excellence for the third year in a row. The award recognized Richland, Miss.-based KLLM’s proper claims handling practices and effective fleet safety program.

All Pro Freight Systems, based in Avon, Ohio, was named Quality Carrier of the Year by the Carolina Casualty Insurance Co. The award is given to fleets that demonstrate excellent safety practices and have low losses year after year.

Just before noon on a cloudy winter day, John Doe was piloting his tractor-trailer eastbound in the right lane of Interstate 40, heading toward Knoxville, Tenn. “Man, I can’t believe it’s already 2007,” Doe thought to himself. “I remember last year I swore I’d try to get out of this ol’ rig and find me some 8-to-5 work.” But as Doe looked around at the gorgeous Tennessee countryside and listened to the Channel 19 chatter, he realized once again he’d never be happy behind a desk.

Suddenly, a familiar voice crackled from Doe’s CB speaker: “Yo, Mr. Doe, is that you behind me?” Recognizing the good-ole-boy voice coming from the straight rig just ahead as one of his best over-the-road buddies – Sonny “The Human Buffet” Armstrong – Doe picked up his mike and responded, and got ready to listen to Armstrong’s latest all-you-can-eat exploits.

Suddenly, Armstrong braked hard and headed toward the right shoulder of the highway, leaving a trail of metal fragments. Something on Armstrong’s rig looked like it had exploded! Doe immediately hit the brakes, found himself running an obstacle course, and sought safety in the left lane. He couldn’t avoid all of the sharp steel fragments, and he suffered multiple tire blowouts – but miraculously, he pulled his rig safely to a stop on the right shoulder.

Predictably, Doe received a warning letter from his safety director, charging him with a preventable accident for not having his rig sufficiently under control to avoid multiple road hazards. Since Doe contested the decision, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was called upon to make a final judgment. NSC ruled in Doe’s favor, noting that he had maintained what normally would have been a safe following distance and reacted by braking and changing lanes – the best he could do under the circumstances.

DOT: More commercial drivers buckling up
Safety belt usage among commercial motor vehicle drivers increased significantly in 2006, underscoring the effectiveness of efforts by the American Trucking Associations, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other industry groups to improve safety on the nation’s highways as part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership.

DOT reported that 59 percent of Class 7 and 8 drivers now wear safety belts routinely, which marks a 23 percent increase in usage among commercial drivers since 2003. The nation’s largest national and regional fleets posted the highest percentage increase in safety belt use, jumping to 75 percent in 2006 from 63 percent a year earlier.