Learning to share

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Pennsylvania municipal police departments and state troopers this summer once again will conduct the Smooth Operator enforcement program against aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes and running red lights or stop signs. The stepped-up enforcement is scheduled for July 1-7, Aug. 5-11 and Sept. 2-15. In a previous Smooth Operator effort, police cited 16,223 drivers for aggressive driving on roads that were targeted due to a high frequency of aggressive driving crashes.

Oregon State Police checked hundreds of urine samples collected anonymously and voluntarily from truckers over three days and found 8 percent had controlled substances in their systems. The samples were collected April 10-12 during Operation Trucker Check XII at the southbound Woodburn port of entry on Interstate 5. This year’s results were similar to those of the first Operation Trucker Check in 1998. Unlike that operation, when nearly 20 percent of the drivers refused to provide urine samples, only 4 percent refused this year.

Investigators are citing unsafe speed as a contributing factor in an April 29 crash of a gasoline tanker on a freeway interchange just east of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge that caused sections of two highways to collapse. Flames melted a stretch of eastbound I-80 and I-580 and southbound I-880, and repairs could take months.

Lifesaving highway driving tips were presented recently in two cities – Charlotte, N.C., and Charleston, W.Va. – as part of the American Trucking Associations’ national Share the Road highway safety tour by top professional truck drivers and other safety partners.

In the past year, a poll cited traffic congestion as the No. 1 problem in the greater Charlotte region, and a study found that congestion in North Carolina will more than double in the next 25 years. Traffic delays in Charlotte will mirror those currently seen in Chicago, indicating the need for motorists to learn safe driving techniques.

ATA, the North Carolina Trucking Association, North Carolina Highway Patrol, the Governors Highway Safety Program, Charlotte Mecklenburg School driver trainers, AAA Carolinas and Share the Road sponsors Mack Trucks and Michelin North America joined the elite group of million-mile accident-free truck drivers to discuss safety on Charlotte highways. Featured at the April 19 stop at Mack Trucks Charlotte were professional drivers Larry Shelton and Ralph Hamilton with Old Dominion Freight Line, Tony Sifford with FedEx Ground, Jerry Avossa with FedEx Freight, and Rick Whittle, a truck driver for Bulldog Hiway Express.

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Following the safety demonstration, reporters, photographers and CMS driver trainers were given tractor-trailer rides on Interstate 85. From the truck driver’s perspective, they viewed safe merging and stopping distances and learned firsthand some of the differences between how cars and large trucks operate on the highways.

In Charleston, ATA’s Share the Road team was joined at the State Capitol by the West Virginia Motor Truck Association, the State Police, the Public Service Commission, the Nick J. Rahall II Appalachian Transportation Institute and AAA. Featured at the event were professional truck drivers Clarence Jenkins with UPS Freight, David Bowers with Yellow, Al Adams with Roadway and Randy Broderick with FedEx Freight. Following the safety demonstration, reporters, photographers and state legislators were given tractor-trailer rides on Interstate 64.

Preventable or not: Doe outmuscled at the mall
“Wow, what an awesome machine!” John Doe exclaimed to himself as the V8-powered 1967 Dodge Charger sports car emitted a throaty roar and accelerated away from the stop sign like a bullet, leaving Doe’s straight truck shrouded in a cloud of burning rubber. Stifling a momentary twinge of jealousy, Doe consoled himself with the thought that his souped-up ’72 Ford Mustang could take the charge right out of that Charger.

Moments later, Doe’s thoughts turned from muscle cars to the everyday task of off-loading freight as he pulled into the massive Gwinnett Place shopping center complex just outside Atlanta, looking for … ah-hah! There was Pete’s Pet Paradise, on the next corner. Doe was thrilled when he pulled up to the front of the store because no one was parked next to the front sidewalk, meaning he could simply pull up, unload and get out of Dodge in a jiffy.

Doe delivered a dozen boxes of Goldy’s Goldfish Gobbles, climbed back into his cab and took a moment to extract some snacks from his bulging bag of survival rations. Next, he checked his mirrors, activated the four-way flashers, tapped the horn and proceeded to slowly back away from the pickup that had parked in front of his rig … WHUMP! What the heck? Rushing to the rear of his rig, Doe discovered that his hefty underride guard had impacted, and crinkled, the glossy black hood of Dr. Jason Swifty’s 12-cylinder illegally parked Jaguar convertible, which must have sneaked up immediately behind Doe while he was searching his snack sack for Spicy Ranch Doritos.

Since Doe contested the preventable-accident warning letter from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to resolve the conflict. To Doe’s dismay, NSC sided against him, noting that the fact the Jaguar was parked illegally was no excuse for blindly slamming into it.