Roadcheck numbers improve

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Sleep Pointe (www.sleeppointe.com), a provider of sleep apnea treatment programs to the transportation industry, will use Covidien’s sleep disorder treatment products in an anti-sleep apnea program aimed at truck drivers. Drivers will have access to diagnosis, education and treatment facilities via Sleep Pointe’s Mobile Sleep Solution Centers, which are built in 53-foot trailers.

U.S. Department of Transportation and California DOT announced a $12.4 million partnership as part of DOT’s SafeTrip-21 initiative to test various intelligent transportation systems to reduce congestion, fatalities and injuries. In one field test, up to 10,000 commuters and transit vehicles in the San Francisco Bay Area will use GPS-equipped cellular phones to transmit data from area roads to traffic management centers.

University of Minnesota’s Center for Excellence in Rural Safety will be home to a national online clearinghouse for information about rural road safety, the U.S. DOT announced. The clearinghouse will distribute lessons learned by researchers to transportation officials and first responders nationwide.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced enhancements to its five-star safety rating program, effective with model year 2010. For the first time, NHTSA will provide an overall safety rating combining results from frontal, side and rollover tests as well as a new side pole test to simulate wrapping a vehicle around a tree. Visit www.regulations.gov
and search NHTSA-2006-26555.

Despite concerns that a weakening economy combined with ever-increasing fuel prices would push safety to the bottom of the list for commercial motor vehicle fleets, a recent check on the industry shows the lowest rate of out-of-service vehicles in two decades.

“This rate (23.9 percent vehicle out-of-service rate for Level I Inspections) is the principal barometer used to measure compliance, and it is the lowest we’ve seen in the 21-year history of Roadcheck,” says Stephen Campbell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. “It is clear the safety message is being heard and that the increased enforcement presence is making a difference.”

CVSA sponsors Roadcheck each year with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico). From June 3 to June 5, 9,148 CVSA- and FMCSA-certified inspectors at 1,683 locations across North America performed 67,931 truck and bus inspections; 52,345 of the total were North American Standard Level I inspections, the most comprehensive roadside inspection. Both the total number of inspections and Level I inspections were records for the annual Roadcheck event; 2008 saw lower out-of-service rates for most vehicle and driver types.

For drivers, the 5.3 percent overall out-of-service rate was a 14.5 percent improvement over last year’s rate. Of those placed out of service, 55.6 percent were due to hours-of-service compliance. That’s an improvement over the 66.3 percent in 2007. Also, 3.8 percent of all drivers inspected in 2008 were placed out of service for an HOS violation, down from 4.9 percent last year.

Despite some positive trends, the number of safety-belt violations rose significantly this year – from 829 in 2007 to 1,226 this year. Brakes continue to be the dominant vehicle out-of-service defect, comprising 52.6 percent of the total vehicle defects. The percentage of vehicle out-of-service defects that were brake-related has declined in recent years, down from a high of 56.6 percent in 2004.

For more information on Roadcheck 2008, visit www.cvsa.org.


Preventable or not: Doe gets red hot under the bridge
Ensconced comfortably behind the wheel of his tractor-trailer, John Doe maintained a sedate 25 mph on sun-drenched Main Street in Paducah, Ky., while listening intently to fellow trucker Sidney “Dude” Goocher’s Channel 19 recitation of the Federal Highway Administration’s fascinatingly inscrutable definition of interstate commerce, which he’d gleefully downloaded the previous evening.

“Interstate commerce is determined by the essential character of the movement, manifested by the shipper’s fixed and persistent intent at the time of shipment, and is ascertained from all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the transportation,” Goocher read. “Y’all got that, Johnny boy?”

“Clear as mud, Dude,” Doe responded. Darn! He’d just missed his turn for the delivery at Muffin Warehouse on Ferret Avenue! Hastily concluding his chat with Dude, Doe turned left at the next corner, onto a residential road, only to be faced by an underpass whose clearance was marked 13 feet, 1 inch. Although Doe’s trailer stood 13 feet tall, he proceeded under the bridge anyway, albeit with extreme caution, at a snail’s pace for several feet before