Roadcheck reveals safer truckers.

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Nearly 52 percent of U.S. urban interstates are congested, and traffic fatality rates are up slightly, but road surface and bridge conditions have improved, according to the Reason Foundation’s 16th Annual Report on the Performance of State Highway Systems. Drivers in California, Minnesota, New Jersey and North Carolina are stuck in the worst traffic, with more than 70 percent of urban interstates in those states qualifying as congested, the study shows. For more information, go to this site.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin signed legislation that makes the state compliant with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. The Alaska act, which took effect July 1, requires more vehicle and driver inspections, stronger enforcement measures against violators and stronger commercial driver’s license testing and recordkeeping. Alaska faced penalties, including a loss of federal highway construction funds, unless it came into compliance.

J.J. Keller & Associates introduced Transport Safety Pro Advisor Online Community, an online news service designed to update subscribers on regulatory and nonregulatory developments that impact transportation employees and everyday operations. Each month, subscribers receive a website address via e-mail that allows them to access the online community, which provides monthly articles covering safety training, compliance, the role of the safety professional, risk management, human resources and more. For more information, go to this site.

The U.S. trucking industry showed improvement in truck safety, including an increase in the number of drivers wearing their safety belts, as well as industry compliance with hazardous materials regulations, according to the results of the 2007 truck safety Roadcheck conducted throughout North America by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Figures also showed slight increases in the number of drivers and vehicles parked for work and rest violations.

The number of vehicles, including trucks and buses, placed out of service during the June 5-7 enforcement blitz represented 21.5 percent of the vehicles inspected, compared to 21.7 percent in 2006. The number of safety belt violations decreased to 829 from 1,223 a year earlier. The number of hazmat trucks placed out of service also declined to 17.7 percent from 18.2 percent in 2006. The number of trucks parked for brake defects also dropped.

Drivers placed out of service for noncompliance with hours-of-service rules increased slightly to 4.9 percent, from 4.5 percent in 2006. Results in other enforcement categories also increased slightly in 2007 over Roadcheck 2006, but according to the American Trucking Associations, these figures do not mean that trucking is less safe, but that inspectors have improved their skill in selecting trucks and drivers for inspections.

CVSA Roadcheck inspections aren’t performed at random; trucks and drivers are targeted for inspection based upon the safety record or previous inspections of the motor carrier or the driver, or upon the observation skills of the trained inspectors. The inspectors use a computerized Inspection Selection System by entering the vehicle, company and driver information into the computer. The ISS then gives the inspector one of three results: “inspect,” “inspection optional” or “don’t inspect.”

Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer, praised CVSA for a successful Roadcheck. “Safety on the nation’s highways and the safety of the motoring public continue to be the top priorities of the trucking industry,” Graves says. “ATA supports the removal of unsafe trucks from the road. CVSA continues to become better at targeting those drivers and vehicles that should be out of operation. We appreciate CVSA’s annual Roadcheck effort, which helps ensure that education and enforcement are having a positive impact on safety.”

As part of its overall safety agenda, ATA says it will continue to promote safety belt use for all truck drivers by advocating primary safety belt laws in all states and increased safety belt enforcement efforts. ATA also continues to work with its industry counterparts to educate drivers about work and rest rules.

Preventable or not: Doe’s field of dreams a nightmare
At dawn, clutching a humongous travel mug full of hot coffee and a giant bag of Spicy Ranch Doritos, an impatient John Doe was ready to get on with his day. Knowing he had a long drive ahead of him, he ran to the ready line and popped into the cab of Unit 611. Then, after a hasty hookup to a 48-foot reefer trailer, Doe cranked up the landing gear and performed a quick walk-around inspection.

Satisfied that all was well, Doe popped a Toby Keith CD into the in-dash player and headed toward the terminal gate, singing along to “Who’s Your Daddy?” As Doe motored through the gate and turned right onto Route 22, all heck broke loose. Actually, it was the trailer laden with Frankie’s Frozen Pizzas that broke loose. Suddenly, Doe was in charge of only 10 wheels