CCJ Daily Dispatch, May 7: DOT reports uptick in fatal truck crashes in 2019

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Trucking news and briefs for Thursday, May 7, 2020: 

NHTSA: Truck-involved fatalities rise in 2019 while overall traffic deaths fall
Early estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest a slight decline in traffic fatalities across the country in 2019 despite a projected rise in truck-involved crash fatalities.

If NHTSA’s estimates hold true, 2019 would be the third consecutive year with declining highway fatalities.

NHTSA’s projection shows an estimated 36,120 people were killed in crashes in 2019, down approximately 1.2% from the 36,560 fatalities reported in 2018. Fatalities in crashes involving at least one large truck are projected to have increased by 1%, however.

The agency’s preliminary numbers show a decrease in fatalities in all 10 regions across the country except the Southeast (which includes Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama), which saw a 2% increase in traffic fatalities last year. New England saw the biggest year-over-year decline in fatalities with an 8% decrease.

NHTSA did not release specific numbers to show how many people were killed in different crash types. The agency says its full 2019 numbers will be released later this year.

N.C. towing company charged for price gouging truckers
A Charlotte, North Carolina-based towing company has been charged after allegedly improperly booting and/or towing trucks hauling COVID-19 relief supplies and price gouging truckers for the release of their trucks.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein obtained a temporary restraining order against A1 Towing Solutions and its owner, David Jewel Satterfield, which bans the company and Satterfield from the towing business in North Carolina until a court hearing.

Stein’s lawsuit alleges that the company “improperly and predatorily booted or towed trucks that were delivering food, water, bleach or needed medical supplies” during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the truckers had permission to park where they were. The lawsuit also claims Satterfield and his company allegedly forced drivers to pay up to $4,400 to get their trucks back.

Other claims against A1 Towing, according to a press release from Stein’s office, include double-booting a tractor-trailer to double the price for removing the boots, charging inflated fees for the use of credit cards and “bogus fees for filings with the DMV,” and threatening to increase fees unless drivers paid immediately.

The complaint details allegations from four truck drivers whose trucks were either booted or towed, then charged large amounts to have their trucks released.

“As a result of A1 Towing Solutions and Satterfield’s actions, drivers were delayed in delivering critical supplies needed in North Carolina and other states to respond to the pandemic,” the press release says. “Attorney General Stein is seeking temporary, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief against the defendants, as well as restitution for victims, civil penalties, and other relief.”

Peterbilt launches site for diesel techs
Peterbilt Motors Company announced the launch of Peterbilt.tech, a new website created to help those interested in a career as a Peterbilt service technician.

The site offers information about technology used in Peterbilt trucks and also allows techs to apply to the Peterbilt Technician Institute “to fine tune their education,” Peterbilt says.

“Having a great service department is critical to driving uptime for our customers,” says Peyton Harrell, director of dealer development. “The increasing demand for qualified heavy duty truck and engine service technicians will continue well into the future. Being a Peterbilt technician is a great career opportunity and our new Peterbilt.tech website and the Peterbilt Technician Institute were created to help guide people that are interested in pursuing that career path.”