Month: September 2008

OPERATION TRUCKER CHECK 15 UNDERWAY SEEKING UNSAFE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES AND DRIVERS IN SOUTHERN OREGON



News Release from: Oregon State Police

Impaired truck drivers and unsafe commercial vehicles are again the focus of the 15th interagency police and motor carrier operation currently underway in southern Oregon at the Klamath Falls Port of Entry on Highway 97. During the 72-hour operation that began at 12:01 a.m., September 23rd, and runs through 11:59 p.m., September 25th, police officers and truck inspectors will be working with Drug Recognition Evaluators (DRE) and K9 officers targeting operator impairment and vehicle safety.

“Operation Trucker Check”, a successful enforcement and inspection program that provides an ongoing look into commercial vehicle and driver safety, involves a team of police officers and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) commercial vehicle inspectors looking for driver impairment related to alcohol, drugs, or fatigue, and vehicle equipment safety. First held in 1998 at the Ashland Port of Entry, and now being held for the second time held at Klamath Falls Port of Entry, trucker checks have also been held in Woodburn, Ontario, and Cascade Locks.

The last “Operation Trucker Check” was held April 15 – 17, 2008 at the Farewell Bend Port of Entry westbound Interstate 84 in the Huntington area. Of the 574 inspections conducted, 12 percent resulted in commercial vehicles being placed out of service and 14 percent of the drivers were placed out of service. Officers and inspectors issued 24 motor carrier-related citations and 542 warnings. Six arrests were made for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants; four of which were commercial truck drivers.

“The value of this inspection and enforcement program helps keep a keen eye on vehicle and driver safety concerns with the support of the Oregon Trucking Association,” said Sergeant Dave MacKenzie, who oversees the OSP Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit. “These around-the-clock unannounced safety inspections have yanked several impaired drivers and unsafe vehicles off the road before something bad happens.”

Sergeant MacKenzie pointed out the program’s four goals for “Operation Trucker Check XV”:

1) Identifying commercial vehicle driver and equipment violations, with an emphasis on out-of-service violations;
2) Detecting operator impairment by alcohol and/or substance abuse;
3) Detecting operator impairment by fatigue; and,
4) Detecting any criminal activity occurring in conjunction with commercial motor vehicle operations.

Oregon State Police (OSP) and ODOT will work toward these goals by conducting Level I, Level II, and Level III truck inspections to identify drivers impaired by fatigue or substances, compliance with federal hours of service regulations, and federal requirement for commercial motor vehicle safety equipment. Trained Drug Recognition Evaluators (DREs) from OSP, Albany Police Department, Tualatin Police Department, and Klamath Falls Police Department will evaluate and identify drug or alcohol impaired drivers.

According to 2007 statistics provided by ODOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division:

* The total number of truck crashes dropped in 2007 from 2006 by over 11%
* 61,349 truck safety inspections were conducted in Oregon, up from 59,064 in 2006
* During inspections, critical safety violations were found in 20% of the vehicles and 14% of drivers
* Most common mechanical violation found during inspections continues to be brake-related
* Over 7,000 truck drivers were caught during inspections falsifying log books or keeping inaccurate driver logs books, a sharp rise from the more than 5,000 drivers caught in 2006

Additional motor carrier related information and statistics is available on ODOT’s Web site at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/MCT/SAFETY.shtml .

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Those Insane Truck Drivers

Over the past few months, I have heard several talking points in the current presidential campaign. One of the phrases I continue to hear almost on a daily basis makes me wonder about my own situation as a driver.

Have you heard the phrase: “The definition of insanity is someone doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”? Of course, they have used this phrase to describe the current president, and of course, congress. Today, I heard the phrase again and a light bulb went on. Isn’t that what I am doing in the truck? Why did I decide to become a professional driver? I can remember those first days of trucking school and hearing the stories about how much a truck driver could make on the road. If you were a team, well then, you were set for life. I can remember a couple companies out of Tennessee that came to our school and promised a team could make over $100,000. a year or more! By those calculations, you and your partner could retire in about 15 years with over a million dollars in the bank. LOL. Oh sure! It makes me laugh at what we believed when the recruiters visited our school. What did I know, I was struggling to make $20,000. a year as a transportation supervisor. Anything in the $40,000. to $50,000. range would be great. Oh sure!

That brings me to my point. For the past 10 1/2 years, I have worked for a handful of companies, each unique to their own, but promising to pay the best wage and keeping me busy. Almost every company I have worked for has promised more miles than I could shake a stick at, I was going to make great money. The last two weeks have really made me look at changing careers. Two weeks ago, the company I work for had the slowest week in their history. There have even been rumors that they are falling on hard financial times due to higher fuel prices and lower freight rates. I continue to drive a truck for yet another company, put in endless hours away from family and friends, and still expect that trucking is going to get me out of debt. I continue doing the same thing over and over and over and expect a different or better result.

Yep, I think I am definitely insane! LOL

Revenue Generating System

A Revenue Generating System – sounds like several emails I receive on a daily basis. Somebody tries to get me to click on a link taking me to the greatest money making system on the net. Does this sound familiar?

You’d think that I was going to talk about a great money making opportunity or a plan to really generate a tremendous amount of money. Well, I am, sort of. But what I am talking about isn’t something you can find on the net. It’s not even anything you could find searching Yahoo or Google. Are you intrigued yet? Do I have you wondering what could be such a great “Revenue Generating System”?

Well here it is, the greatest revenue generating system in the world and it is geared towards the trucking community, it’s the local Department of Transportation / State Police Scale House / Weigh Station! Whoopie! Why do they even call it a scale house or weigh station anymore? Do they actually care that the truck is overweight anymore? I am sure that they do, but you have to be so grossly overweight that it makes it worth the dot officers time to pull you in. They should call it the Log Book Enforcement Center, or something to that effect.

Remember in days past, the “Weigh Station” was actually used to weigh trucks so they didn’t overload our highways and bridges. It wasn’t so much a safety deal as it was a roadway protection deal. When did it become the state dot’s job to slap exorbitant fines on truck drivers. It really has moved away from a safety issue, to a way of states and counties to entrap unsuspecting drivers into “Scale Houses” to slap huge fines on the drivers. Do you think that large trucking companies would stand for large fines if they were responsible for the fines? They would take the jurisdiction involved into court so fast, that the local scale house would shut down. Why is it a truckers burden to bail out a counties financial woes by paying $500 – $1500 – $3000 – $6250 in fines for something as simple as a logbook mistake? Get an overweight fine in California or Oregon and pay about $150 to $180 bucks. Forgetting to sign a log sheet or miss flagging an Oregon scale and pay upwards of $1,000 to $1,800 dollars in fines, be shut down for 10 hours and miss two days work! Does this sound like a great “Revenue Generating System” to you? Probably not, but for the thousands of DOT Scales around the country, it’s a real “Cash Cow”!

Minor Injury Commercial Vehicle Rollover Crash

News Release from: Oregon State Police

Posted: September 17th, 2008 9:27 AM

Two commercial vehicle occupants received minor injuries Wednesday morning after losing control of their vehicle and rolling onto its side blocking eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 about fifteen miles east of Baker City. One lane is now re-open as ODOT coordinates clean up efforts.

According to Oregon State Police (OSP) Lieutenant Dave MacManiman, on September 17, 2008 at approximately 5:05 a.m. a commercial vehicle with two occupants was eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 321 in a construction zone for a bridge project when the truck and trailer left the roadway into the center median. The driver attempted to get back onto the roadway but lost control and rolled over onto its left side.

Both the driver and co-driver were transported to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Baker City with non-life threatening injuries. Their names are not available for this release.

Truck was loaded with boxed produce from the Tri-Cities area in Washington State.

OSP troopers from the Baker City office are investigating the crash. They were assisted at the scene by ODOT, Baker City Fire Department, and local construction zone workers. Both lanes were blocked for about 2.5 hours before one lane could be opened until the scene is completely cleared.

Photograph Source: Oregon State Police

Two Commercial Drivers Die in North Idaho

IDAHO STATE POLICE NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

At approximately 0403 AM, a Swift Trucking Tractor/Trailer was traveling westbound on I90, approaching the Pennsylvania avenue overpass at milepost 14.3. The truck drifted across the median fogline and struck the median barrier immediately east of the overpass. The truck then struck the steel guardrail on the overpass, destroying the guardrail across the overpass and then striking the concrete face on the west side of the overpass. The tractor/trailer then crashed into the median barrier again, jacknifing and bursting into flames. The truck was hauling compressed rolls of paper. The flames and debris closed both eastbound and westbound travel lanes. The driver, Mark Phares, and the co-driver, John Miller, were pronounced dead at the scene. The eastbound and westbound lanes were completely blocked for 4.5 hours. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.