I-64 in VA there has been a pile-up | Over 45 vehicles | I-64E in York County near Williamsburg VA | Crash is due to icy conditions | Both sides of the Interstate are closed | Photo: York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office
Joliet, Illinois – It’s no secret truckers have the best view of what actually happens on the road. And now, Illinois police officers are using it to their advantage.
It’s all a part of the “Trooper in a Truck” program, which began as a collaborative effort between the Nebraska Trucking Association and the Nebraska State Police in February 2017.
The program was implemented in downstate Illinois last summer. Now, it’s moving into the Chicago area.
“Trooper in a Truck” partners with a local trucking company and invites police officers into the cab of a big rig, where they get a better view of the driving behaviors of motorists on the road — both 4-wheelers and commercial vehicles alike.
Troopers are looking for unsafe driving behaviors such as texting and driving, speeding, following too closely, and aggressive driving.
Observed violations are reported to a nearby officer in a marked patrol unit, who will stop the violator and issue a warning or citation.
Illinois State Patrol (ISP) has partnered with the Illinois Trucking Association and Cadence Premier Logistics and has operations on Interstates 55, 57 and 80.
“We will do whatever we can to be out there and be visible to help save lives on the roadways,” ISP Major Robert Meeder said in a press conference announcing the expansion on Wednesday.
“It’s a lot easier to see what the drivers in passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles are doing with their hands and a lot of times we can find out they’re texting,” Sargent Nate Miller of the ISP told NBC Chicago 5.
“You shouldn’t be texting and driving. You shouldn’t be looking at that digital device while you’re driving. Your hand should be on the wheel and watching the highway,” Matt Hart, Executive Director of the Illinois Trucking Association, told FOX Illinois last year.
ISP reminds motorists that cell phone use should always be hands-free in the state of Illinois.
Morgan County, Alabama – Police are searching for a truck driver who went missing Wednesday, June 11 near a truck stop in Priceville, Alabama.
Authorities have confirmed 64-year-old Bertram Moore, a FedEx truck driver from El Paso, Texas, disappeared after parking his truck at a Pilot Travel Center near the intersection of Interstate 65 and Highway 67.
Officer Terry Jones with the Priceville Police Department said authorities began searching for Bertram after FedEx alerted them that Bertram’s daughter reported she was unable to reach her father.
Bertram’s truck was quickly located and investigators discovered his belongings inside.
However, Bertram was missing along with his phone, officials said.
Officer Jones revealed family members believe Bertram may have had a medical event based on his health history.
A team comprised of the Priceville Fire Department, the Morgan County Rescue Squad, and Limestone County tracking dogs assisted with searching 10 acres of land near the truck stop.
However, their efforts so far have been unsuccessful.
According to multiple reports, Bertram was last heard from Wednesday night.
Police request that if you have any information about Bertram Moore to contact Priceville PD at (256)350-4613.
Eagle Butte, South Dakota – A truck driver was kicked off of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation on Monday after being suspected of hauling for a contractor building the Keystone XL pipeline.
According to leaders of the tribe, regulations require that “…any and all Keystone XL trucks and escort vehicles that drive onto our reservation be turned around immediately and go back the way they entered the reservation.”
The big rig was parked Monday afternoon in an Eagle Butte-convenience store parking lot where it was first noticed by concerned members.
Members of the tribe reportedly became suspicious of the truck driver after observing the semi was hauling an oversized load without a pilot vehicle.
That’s when Joye Braun, a grassroots organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, said she was alerted about the truck by a friend at approximately 5:30 p.m.
She told the Rapid City Journal she went to the convenience store to also confront the driver.
She claims to have heard the driver say he was heading to the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.
Further, she claimed someone else told her the driver said he was working for a contractor with TC Energy.
Law enforcement was alerted, and in an effort to keep the trucker from leaving until officials arrived, members of the tribe surrounding the truck.
Images Braun posted to Twitter reveal one member standing on the truck while another is lying underneath the semi.
Fracking tank being turned around and escorted back the way it came after grassroots stopped it in front of Eagle Stop pic.twitter.com/moFksdIn47
— Joye Braun (@joyem_braun) June 11, 2019
Once law enforcement arrived, they notified leaders of the situation and were instructed to escort the trucker off of the reservation immediately.
However, according to multiple reports, a spokesperson with TC Energy, Sara Rabern, denied the trucker was working for them or had anything to do with the pipeline.
“We work closely with our crews and contractors on their schedules to ensure their safety and ensuring the safe delivery of our materials,” Rabern said.
“In addition, we currently do not have any activity in the region. We build pipe and are not an oil or gas producer that would move its products by truck,” she commented.
Furthermore, Tony Mangan, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said he wasn’t sure what company the trucker was hauling for.
“I cannot confirm to you that it was a pipeline truck. We don’t know that,” he told the Rapid City Journal.
Nonetheless, law enforcement officers escorted the truck driver off of the reservation.
Chairman Harold Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe praised members for their actions.
“This is Sioux Territory. We will not stand for more encroachments and defilement of our land. Any vehicles or personnel working on the Keystone XL pipeline are not welcome on the reservation,” he stated.
Washington D.C. – The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, commonly known as the Trucking Alliance, is once again urging U.S. Congressional leaders to take new action in order to “reduce large truck crash fatalities and injuries.”
The safety group, comprised of some of the trucking industry’s largest and most powerful carriers, submitted comments for the record today to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Sub-Committee on Highways and Transit at a hearing entitled “Under Pressure: The State of Trucking in America”
Pointing to the recent rise in the number of fatalities involving large truck crashes (4,761 people in 2017, including more than 600 truck drivers), Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, and president co-founder of the Trucking Alliance said the trucking industry simply “has too many accidents.”
“More truck drivers lost their lives in 2017 than in any year in the previous 10 years,” Williams lamented. “We must aggressively address these tragic figures.”
Williams believes the adoption of more “progressive safety reforms” will aid in reducing crashes.
“Support progressive safety reforms that make sense for our country and citizens first, our industry second, and our companies third,” Williams urged lawmakers.
Williams said the Trucking Alliance is determined “to fully eliminate all highway accident fatalities within 30 years.”
To accomplish this goal, Williams implored leaders to consider the following safety priorities.
1. “NO INDUSTRY SEGMENT SHOULD BE EXEMPT FROM INSTALLING ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICES (ELDS)”
The Trucking Alliance is asking lawmakers to reject recently introduced legislation that would provide relief from the ELD mandate to certain segments of the trucking industry (H.R. 1673 and H.R. 1698), as well as carriers with 10 trucks or fewer (H.R. 1697).
“ELDs should be required in all large commercial trucks, regardless of how many trucks are owned, the commodity being hauled, length of trip, or whether the truck driver operates in interstate or intrastate commerce,” the statement said.
Arguing these new legislative efforts would endanger public safety because “paper logbooks are easily falsified,” the group said thousands of truck drivers cannot be allowed “to operate ‘off the grid’ and without a reliable way to verify whether they are in compliance with on-duty regulations.”
2. “THOUSANDS OF COMMERCIAL TRUCK DRIVERS ARE ILLICIT DRUG USERS”
The safety group is once again arguing for the adoption of hair follicle testing to be required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) in the pre-employment screening of commercial driver applicants.
“Drug use in the trucking industry is a public safety crisis,” the group said.
According to a recent survey conducted among its members, the safety group said of the more than 150,000 applicants tested by both urinalysis and a hair follicle analysis, the “urinalysis missed 9 out of 10 actual illicit drug users.”
The survey noted that “almost all” of the applicants currently held a CDL at the time of their testing.
The group estimates that more than 300,000 truck drivers should be “purged” from the industry due to drug use.
“These illicit drug users must be identified and taken out of commercial trucks and off the nation’s highways,” the group urged.
The Trucking Alliance said the industry has “no greater safety issue than to aggressively address illegal drug use among commercial truck drivers.”
3. “TRUCK DRIVERS SHOULD BE 21 YEARS OR OLDER TO OPERATE COMMERCIAL TRUCKS IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE”
The group is also imploring lawmakers to reject the new push to lower the interstate driving age for commercial truck drivers from 21 to 18.
Newly re-introduced legislation known as the DRIVE Safe Act is supported by industry groups like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), while opposed by groups like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
“The nation’s public highways should not be used as a proving ground to determine if teenagers can operate Class 8 tractor-trailer combinations safely,” the Trucking Alliance said.
Citing a lack of data on the issue, the group argued that operating a big rig cross-country requires “elevated skills, considerable experience, maturity and self-discipline.”
Not only would putting 18-year-olds behind-the-wheel of big rigs operating across the U.S. be a safety concern, the group argues it would also be a financial one for many carriers.
“The industry’s property and liability insurance rates, for incurring the additional risk of teenage truck drivers in interstate commerce, would assuredly go up,” the statement said.
4. “LARGE TRUCKS SHOULD ADHERE TO A REASONABLE MAXIMUM SPEED OF 65-MPH”
The Trucking Alliance wants big rigs governed at 65 mph.
The group points, in part, to an estimation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that setting a truck speed limiter at 65 mph, “could save as many as 214 lives and prevent approximately 4,500 injuries from large truck crashes each year.”
In the statement, the group contends, “Slowing the top speed of tractor trailers will greatly reduce the number of fatalities and the severity of injuries from large truck crashes.”
Obviously unhappy with the Trump Administration’s actions to thwart the mandating of speed limiters, the Trucking Alliance wants action now.
“Congress should support legislation that would direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final rule requiring truck speed limiting devices and for those commercial vehicles currently equipped with the technology to engage the devices,” the group said.
5. “COLLISION MITIGATION SYSTEMS SHOULD BE REQUIRED ON NEW COMMERCIAL TRUCKS”
The safety group argued that collision mitigation systems can and do help to prevent truck crashes.
Technologies such as lane departure warning systems, video-based onboard safety monitoring, automatic emergency braking systems, and air disc brakes should all be deployed, according to members of the Trucking Alliance.
The group said its member carriers are committed to continuing to test these technologies and more, but urged Congress to “require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to set a minimum performance standard and issue a final rule requiring that commercial motor vehicles are equipped with automatic emergency braking systems, as standard equipment.”