Turn Signals – Issue 56

Important Reminder: Roadcheck 2017 will run this year from Tuesday, June 6th through Thursday, June 8th. The highway inspectors’ emphasis will be checking load securement.

The Transportation Security Administration issued an alert to the truck rental industry on the increased threat of using commercial motor vehicles in terrorist vehicle ramming attacks. The agency noted in the last 3 years that at least 173 people have been killed and more than 700 wounded in 17 ramming attacks around the world. While no similar incident has happened yet in the United States, at least one event involving an automobile has occurred. While some truck leasing companies have not made public how they vet vehicle renters, others state they require multiple forms of identification and screen applicants through terror watch lists. The Department of Homeland Security also issued a bulletin to the trucking industry advising on the increased possibility of homegrown terrorism and to report any suspicious activity to the FBI.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is advocating federal legislation to mandate side underride guards on trailers similar to the “DOT” bumpers now mounted at the rear of trailers. Its 2015 data indicates more automobile occupants died hitting the sides of trailers compared to hitting the rear, and it estimates of the 301 passengers killed in side accidents, half of them involved underride incidents. IIHS states a 2012 study found strong side underride guards have the potential of reducing serious injuries by 75% in crashes between large trucks and cars. This year the institute tested a trailer mounted with an 800-pound side guard frame which successfully prevented a car traveling 35 mph from crashing underneath the unit. Safety advocates have drafted legislation for side underride guards, but it has not yet been introduced in Congress.

Electronic Logging Device shopping tip: Motor carriers studying which manufacturer to choose for ELDs should make sure the devices are able to have the driver email data to a highway inspector. While federal regulations allow another option for the ELD to send data via a Bluetooth or USB connection, state enforcement agencies are establishing policies to ban this method of data transferal. Their rationale is simple: There is no way that the state wants a driver to establish a direct connection to its trooper’s laptop. The risk of transmitting viruses and other mischief, whether intentional or not, is too great.

Strong opposition has surfaced to a petition at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to allow hair testing for drugs instead of urine testing. The AFLCIO submitted comments stating hair testing can produce false results and may have an inherent racial bias. The labor organization says the agency must wait for the Department of Health and Human Services to conclude its evaluation of this method of testing, as required by federal law. Several civil rights organizations similarly oppose the petition.

Did you know… An inaugural survey by a new professional driver group, One20, found 57% of its members still use paper logs and not electronic logging devices. The federal deadline requiring ELDs on most trucks is December 18th, now a little over 6 months away.

Turn Signals is published by Nicholas Wingerter (210.863.9759) and TRUCK SAFETY.
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