Month: April 2008

From the Offices of OSP

A commercial truck driver received serious injury Thursday morning after the truck he was driving left Highway 138E about 11 miles east of Steamboat and crashed into the North Umpqua River. An estimated 150 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the river.

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Senior Trooper Jeff Willis, on April 10, 2008 at approximately 6:00 a.m. a truck and chip trailer operated by JUSTIN J. SHAFFER, age 36, from Dillard, was eastbound on Highway 138E near milepost 51 when, for an undetermined reason, it failed to negotiate a right curve and crossed the highway. The truck and trailer left the highway, traveled down a steep embankment and into the North Umpqua River.

SHAFFER was seriously injured and transported by Air Life to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. SHAFFER was driving for Terrain Tamers Chip Hauling, Inc. and the trailer was empty.

An estimated 150 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the river. ODOT Hazmat and First Strike Environmental of Roseburg responded to the scene to handle the diesel spill.

OSP troopers from the Roseburg Area Command office are continuing the investigation. In addition to the mentioned agencies, local emergency responders also assisted at the scene. Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Fish and Wildlife were notified about the spill.

Photograph Source: Oregon State Police

They Still Don’t Get It

Hurray to the guys in Washington D.C. today who took part in the “drive in” protest over $4.00 dollar per gallon diesel. You won’t find this story on CNN, MSNBC or your local news station. The only network to give 30 seconds to the cause was Fox News. The Olympic Torch was dedicated about 5 hours of breaking news time on CNN yesterday, yet almost no time was given to the subject of high fuel prices. I guess I should stop watching CNN for a while.

The reason for this post is because I heard something totally absurd. A commentator on CNN’s morning show, can’t remember his name, was talking about how he thought the cost of shipping, yes I said shipping, was going to come down. His thought was because more people couldn’t afford higher gas prices, that they would tend to order more products online and have them delivered by FedEx Ground! Huh? What? Did I hear him right? I didn’t want to embarrass this guy because I thought maybe he had a medical condition not allowing him to think straight, or maybe he thought high fuel prices was a big joke. I am sure someone in his position can joke about fuel prices because he’s forgotten how to even pump gas into his own car. He’s probably got a limo or a driver who takes care of those details for him. Heck, he probably makes so much money at his job, he probably has a nice portfolio of oil company stock. Does this guy even know how his groceries get to his supermarket shelf? Oops, I forgot, this guy makes so much money that his housekeeper does the shopping and his accountant pays the bills.

UPS actually reported today that they have seen a drop in shipping and expect the cost of shipping to rise because of higher fuel prices. The bleak picture that I see is higher shipping costs because of fuel prices, higher prices at the supermarket because of higher shipping costs and fewer people buying online because they just can’t afford it, PERIOD!

"SLOW DOWN FOR CONE ZONE" – NATIONAL WORK ZONE AWARENESS WEEK, APRIL 7 – 11

Orange cones on Oregon roads mean one thing: work zone ahead. And with that knowledge comes the reminder to motorists to SLOW DOWN, pay attention to work zone signing and watch for roadway workers. The 2008 National Work Zone Awareness Week runs April 7 – 11 with the theme, “Slow Down for the Cone Zone.” In Oregon, work zone safety messages run year-round on buses, billboards and on radio and TV stations. But it won’t be enough until the state experiences no more fatalities, injuries and crashes in work zones.

“This spring and summer, we’ll continue to see record levels of highway and bridge work. And that means we must continue to remind motorists to pay attention and slow down in work zones,” said Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett.

In Oregon, preliminary 2007 numbers show an increase in fatalities over 2006, from five to 11. None of those who died were construction workers; all were either drivers or passengers in motor vehicles.

“People are surprised to learn that most of the people who die in work zone crashes are in a car, not on the road working,” said Anne Holder, Roadway Safety Program manager for ODOT.

The single biggest factor in crashes is driver inattention, and that’s why orange cones, variable message signs and other tools are used to alert motorists. The other contributing factor is speed, which is why work zones either require or encourage lower speed limits.

Increased enforcement in work zones also helps improve safety. ODOT provides grant funding every year to police agencies statewide for these efforts. Last month, Oregon State Police focused on a recently completed work zone on U.S. 26 near Welches. Officers worked 143.5 overtime hours putting extra troopers in the area during which they issued a total of 282 citations and 84 warnings. Of those, nearly 88 percent (239) were for speed violations as high as 89 mph in a 55 mph speed zone and 80 mph in a 45 mph speed zone. One driver arrested for DUII had a .21% blood alcohol level.

For the past several years, ODOT has been educating drivers and encouraging safety in work zones by promoting the slogan, “Slow down. Better roads ahead.” For more information and tips on safe driving, visit www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TS/workzonesafety.shtml.

Tips for staying safe in the “Cone Zone”

* Pay complete attention to driving. The most important thing drivers can do is focus on the driving task, especially in the transition zone before the work area.
* Orange is your clue. Slow down when you see orange signs, barrels and barricades. Speeding is the second most common factor in work zone crashes.

* Don’t tailgate. Instead, double your following distance.

* Move over to the correct lane well in advance of the work zone.
* Leave early to reach your destination on time.
* You may experience delays in work zones – plan for them!
* Be patient.Be courteous to other drivers so you all arrive safely.
* Avoid work zones when you can by using an alternate route.

You can learn about construction updates, road conditions, traffic and more by calling 5-1-1 or visiting www.TripCheck.com.

It was Bound to Happen

After several years of missed opportunities, CB talk and little action, the truckers slowdown seems to be gaining steam across the country. When fuel prices rose above $1.50 per gallon about 8 years ago, there was talk that the independent trucking community was going to take a stand and vent their displeasure at rising fuel prices. The idea of bringing trucking to a stop or conducting some sort of organized strike never blossomed like it did this week.

I have read news reports across the nation about truckers slowing down, parking their rigs on busy highways and refusing to pick up loads. Reports from all over the Northwest have featured top stories in newspapers, radio stations and tv about the slowdown, including nationwide reporting on national news networks such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. It is amazing how word spreads and these movements pick up momentum.

This action or work slowdown couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve seen the oil executives on C-Span squirm in their seats trying to tell congress that a multi-billion dollar profit and record earnings were not unusual and they needed the money for upgrades to their facilities. The oil executives stated that they needed record profits because it was “expensive” to keep their operations going. Let me see, when I took Business 101 in college, a profit was defined as the money left over after expenses, am I right? So where does the $200 billion or so dollars go after expenses? Into the pockets of oil executives and stock holders. Remember those “oil speculators” I wrote about last year? They were driving up the price of oil on a hunch that prices would increase in the future, in other words futures trading.

Combine record fuel prices along with the greedy broker or lease company who charge a fuel surcharge but don’t pass it along to the independent trucker who deserves it the most, is the main reason why truckers are fed up. Not only do higher fuel prices hurt the trucking industry, it hurts us all as consumers in the long run.

I remember a post last year questioning why our President continued to say our economy was in great shape. I predicted milk prices that were higher than a gallon of fuel, I predicted that the cost of produce would double or triple and I also predicted that high fuel prices would throw us into a severe recession. Does our President even have a clue what is happening in our country? Does he even see past the silver lining of Washington, D.C.? I think most of our government, including Senators and Congressmen from both sides of the isle don’t have a clue to what is happening on the “street level”.

I applaud the truckers who took part in the work slowdown. I believe that maybe, just maybe someone in Washington, D.C. will be looking!