States get help with distracted driving
DOT’s sample bill to aid in legislative bans
The U.S. Department of Transportation in late February unveiled sample legislation to be used as a starting point for states crafting new laws to prohibit texting while driving, the latest step in its campaign against distracted driving. The sample state law, prepared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a cross-section of safety and industry organizations, would authorize law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle and issue a citation to drivers who are texting while driving.
The sample state law is patterned on the Executive Order issued by President Obama on Oct. 1, 2009, directing federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles or with government-owned equipment. Federal employees were required to comply with the ban starting on Dec. 30, 2009.
Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have texting laws covering all drivers. In 2009, more than 200 distracted driving bills were considered by state legislatures, and legislative activity is expected to remain strong in 2010.
Roehl, Erb take top TCA safety awards
Marshfield, Wis.-based Roehl Transport last month took home its second consecutive grand prize in the Truckload Carriers Association’s 34th annual National Fleet Safety Awards. Roehl was the winner in the large carrier division – carriers with total annual mileage of 25 million or more miles. Erb International of New Hamburg, Ontario, was the grand prize winner in the small carrier division. The awards were presented March 2 at TCA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nev., and both carriers will be recognized again during TCA’s Safety & Security Division annual meeting May 16-18 in Kansas City, Mo.
TCA recognized Roehl for its corporate culture that includes a company driving system called “The Roehl Way,” which the carrier calls “protective driving” rather than “defensive driving.” Drivers receive extensive training that includes two 10- to 13-day segments and a third six-week period. Fleet managers receive training through a “call coaching” program that helps them have effective conversations with drivers about safety.
Erb International’s comprehensive Safety Management Program defines the company’s corporate safety culture and includes standards manuals, an emergency response plan, immediate feedback on potential safety risks, defined expectations for all personnel, training programs and support resources. Erb operates a driver performance monitoring and incentive program called the Pro-Drive Program, which relies on electronic onboard recorders to measure speed, hard braking, idle time, routing and mileage.
The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 winners announced in January. The award is sponsored by Great West Casualty.
* Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a rule narrowing the list of materials subject to security plan requirements in the commercial transportation of hazardous materials and reducing associated regulatory costs and paperwork burdens. The final rule also clarifies certain requirements related to security planning, training and documentation. For a copy of the rule, go to www.regulations.gov and search PHMSA-06-25885.
* Department of Transportation adopted as final without change its June 2008 interim final rule authorizing employers to disclose to state commercial driver licensing authorities the drug and alcohol violations of employees who hold CDLs and operate commercial motor vehicles when a state law requires such reporting. For a copy of the rule, go to www.regulations.gov and search OST-2008-0184.
* FleetRisk Advisors, a provider of predictive analytics and decision support technology for the transportation and logistics industry through its Driving Center safety management platform, acquired Safety Management Solutions, which helps companies develop productive and safe workplace cultures in a variety of business sectors; terms were not disclosed.
* Con-way Freight reported an accident frequency rate of .53, or one accident for every 1.9 million miles driven, representing a 13.1 percent decrease from 2008. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company achieved an accident frequency rate of 8.87 per million miles driven in 2009, the lowest since the score of 9.50 it achieved seven years ago.
* Bison Transport driver Ben Dyck of Winnipeg, Manitoba, reached 2 million accident-free consecutive safe driving miles with the company. A professional driver for 41 years, Dyck has been a long-haul owner-operator with Bison since1995.
Preventable or not:
Doe nearly meets Bull head-on
On the comfortable, crisp spring morning of the accident, John Doe was northbound on two-lane Boarswang Boulevard, sedately cruising along at the posted speed limit of 35 mph while munching rice cakes and pondering a bass-fishing trip planned for Saturday. Alas, his mood was destined to change (suddenly, with a loud bang and tooth-jarring impact) after executing a right turn onto Rampage Road.
Weaving toward Doe’s tractor-trailer in the opposing traffic lane was a rusty Dodge pickup driven at high speed by Percy “Bull” Durham, who was on his way to visit Aunt Petunia at the doctor’s office, where she’d been taken after complaining about her rheumatism acting up again. Durham, who was slightly distracted by juggling his cell phone while guzzling an energy drink, wasn’t having much success staying in his lane.
Fortunately, Rampage Road was devoid of other traffic – except for poor unfortunate Doe, who noted that the Dodge pickup had just jagged into his lane and was maintaining a collision course. Doe promptly hit both his horn and brakes and came to a screeching halt as Durham, realizing Doe’s 18-wheel presence, momentarily whizzed back into his own lane, but he lost control and – BLAMENO!!! – smashed into Doe’s left front fender.
Miraculously, the only loss besides the fender was Doe’s spilled bag of rice cakes, but Doe later lost his composure when his safety director wrote him a preventable-accident warning letter, which he promptly contested. Asked to resolve the issue, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee ruled in Doe’s favor, noting that he’d stopped dead in his tracks immediately upon seeing Durham’s truck in his lane and could not have avoided the later impact. n