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PLYMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A crash involving a truck hauling potatoes created hours of delays on Interstate 95 in Plymouth on Thursday.
The tractor trailer was traveling southbound on Tuesday night when it veered into the median and came to rest on its side.
As part of cleanup efforts the next morning, traffic on the highway was reduced to one lane as crews spent hours unloading the truck's cargo of bagged potatoes.
The caller knew enough about the trucking industry to think he could lure a Mesa trucking company into sending him nearly $2,000 for nothing in a fraudulent shakedown scheme, playing to the company’s fears.
But in the end, his story didn’t add up, he didn’t get a dime of Jason Bates’ money, and Bates is hoping that the recorded telephone calls he turned over to police eventually will lead to the not-so-slick con man’s arrest.
Bates, of Cactus Leasing, has spent 21 years in the trucking industry. A red flag flashed in front of him almost immediately when the caller attempted to impersonate an officer with ADOT’s Compliance Division.
The caller claimed that one of Bates’ trucks had been involved in an accident and that Bates need to send him an electronic check to cover the costs of mechanical repairs. ADOT would not release the truck until the bill was paid for a mechanic’s services.
The story went that another truck had lost its load on a freeway and that one of Cactus Leasing’s trucks had run over some metal, damaging it. He provided numbers off the truck as proof.
But Bates realized that anyone who saw a truck would have access to the numbers. He knew ADOT’s job in regulating trucks does not include arranging for repairs. He also knew ADOT would never hold an expensive piece of equipment hostage.
Bates calmly kept the caller on hold while he determined that his only driver in the area was off-duty in Tucson and had not been involved in an accident. When he asked the caller for the truck’s Vehicle Identification Number, the caller quickly hung up.
“I said, I’ve been in the trucking business for 21 years. We never give checks to anyone but a driver.”
He said the caller “definitely knew something about the trucking industry,” but not enough to bilk him.
The caller claimed the driver kept two log books, a serious violation of federal law. What he did not know is that Cactus Leasing keeps an e-log book, which will soon be a federal requirement.
“This guy was trying to scare me, that my driver had two log books. We don’t run paper log books at all,” Bates said.
ADOT officials praised the actions of Bates as a savvy operations manager. They warned other trucking companies to be wary of the scheme and to call the Compliance Division if there are any questions.
“The truck company told us about it. We want to warn other trucking companies,” said Ryan Harding, an ADOT spokesman.
“An officer is not going to unilaterally call out a mechanic,” Harding said. “It would not have happened. The guy made up a story and tried to get some money out of them.”
Harding said the purpose of compliance officers includes the enforcement of weight limits and other safety regulations. He said they mostly work at ports of entry but will inspect trucks at other times as needed.
He said the fraudulent scheme that targeted Cactus Leasing remains under investigation.
The trucking industry, which lobbies Congress heavily on a wide-swath of transportation issues, is not required to have certain safety devices despite a decades-old push to make them mandatory, according to a new report on NBC’s Today Show.
But safety advocates say the American trucking industry has spent big money to lobby lawmakers, which they say helps them wield some influence over public policy. The report notes that some cities have started requiring the devices in the trucks that they purchase.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA), however, points out the group has never taken a stance on the issue and points out that there haven't been legislative proposals to lobby against.
"[American Trucking Associations] is strongly committed to safety and believes that every fatality or injury on our highways is a tragedy. We also support NHTSA’s proposed rule to strengthen the standards that these guards must meet, and that the vast majority of new trailers already meet," the group said in a statement to The Hill.
Two years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration opened up long-haul trucking in the U.S. to motor carriers based in Mexico. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and two other organizations filed lawsuits opposing the program, which have since been combined into one suit.
On March 15 a three-judge panel of Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco will hear oral arguments on OOIDA’s challenge.
OOIDA’s arguments will focus on their position that the pilot program did not demonstrate that Mexico-domiciled motor carriers can and do operate as safely as their U.S. and Canada-domiciled counterparts.
To learn more, including OOIDA’s previous challenges to the program, read the full story at Land Line.
WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest vehicle recalls include the instrument clusters and turn signals on selected 2016/17 Freightliner Business Class M2, 108SD and 114SD trucks, as well as telescoping aerial devices from Altec Industries.
Freightliners affected by the recall were modified to include left and right instrument clusters, but due to a compatibility issue between the displays, instrument clusters and/or the turn signals may not respond.
With the recall expected to begin March 19, 2017, owners of the affected models will be contacted by Daimler Trucks North America, and dealers will at no cost replace the left instrument cluster with one that’s compatible with the right display.
Altec Industries, meanwhile, is in the process of recalling a range of telescoping aerial devices for an issue regarding the winch brake being improperly installed. If not looked after, this issue could cause the winch line to move unexpectedly.
The aerial telescoping devices on Altec models TA37M, TA41M, and TA45M from years 2005-2016 are affected by this recall, expected to begin March 9, 2017. Altec will contact equipment owners and Altec dealers will reverse the direction of the winch brake, and will then check and adjust the winch brake torque setting at no cost to the owner.
TOLLESON, AZ -– Inland Kenworth -- which operates more than 20 dealerships in Canada and the U.S. -- has assembled a T680 with an “Everyday Heroes” paint scheme that will be auctioned to support Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT).
The truck will be unveiled during the American Trucking Associations’ Technology and Maintenance Council meeting in Nashville, after which it will be displayed at Ritchie Bros. auctions in Las Vegas and Phoenix. It will be auctioned on June 20 at the tour’s final location.
Proceeds of the US $157,000 truck’s sale will go to the charity that mobilizes truck drivers and rest stop employees in the fight against human trafficking.
“This project has mobilized a group of caring industry suppliers, and together we are going to help save some lives,” said Don Blake, Inland Kenworth’s new truck sales manager in Phoenix. He came up with the idea after a presentation by the organization. “I had to wipe the tears from my eyes after learning the horrors that TAT rescues people from today.”
Sponsors contributed between $2,500 and $25,000 to help build the vehicle. It has a 76-inch sleeper, 485-horsepower PACCAR MX-13 engine, and Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission.
“The outpouring of support for this effort is phenomenal. All the main component suppliers with a product on this truck were incredibly eager to provide their support to the project. We even had a trailer dealer – Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona – donate and offer to host training,” he said. “We will all share in the success of the program when the truck is auctioned off. The owner will have a very special truck, and will know that they helped support a very worthy cause. We truly hope there will be a bidding war on the Everyday Heroes truck. That way we can raise even more money.”
“I can’t tell you how excited we are at TAT to be involved with Don and his group,” added Kendis Paris, TAT executive director. “When I met Don, he came up to me and said, ‘We have to do something for the kids – we need to figure out a way to support the program.’ He was so sincere and driven. He then contacted me with the idea of an Everyday Heroes truck, and told me about the support he had received from Kenworth and others. It was truly inspiring and shows the trucking industry is committed to making a difference.”
Paris says TAT has educated almost 300,000 truck drivers and truck stop operators to date. “They are our eyes and ears and they’re reporting suspicious activity,” she said. Truckers have accounted for almost 1,600 calls since the program was launched in 2009. “Of that number, we had 503 likely human trafficking cases identified involving nearly 1,100 victims, of which 299 were minors.”
The hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
Providing support for the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 are:
--Kenworth Truck Company
--FlowBelow Wheel Covers
--Jost Fifth Wheel
--Utility Trailer Sales Company of Arizona
--ExGuard Grill Guards
--East Penn Batteries
ERIE, Colo. -- Last month, the Erie Board of Trustees raised the penalty for a truck driver to pass through its town in a semitractor-trailer to $2,650.
That appears to be one of the highest traffic fines in the state. City leaders say the local ordinance was created as a “safety” measure.
But a number of professional drivers have been complaining that the real motive behind the tickets is greed.
“You've heard of speed traps. This is a truck trap,” Craig Engle said outside Erie’s traffic court.
Although Engle argued he was making a local delivery, one of the ordinances’ exemptions, a judge ordered him to pay the ticket.
The dispute between truckers and Erie police centers on the location of a sign on County Line Road that says the weight of trucks is limited to 13 tons.
Trucker Jeff Winowiecki said he was traveling west on Highway 52 and turned down County Line Road toward Erie when he spotted the sign.
There were two immediate problems in Winowiecki’s mind. First, the semitractor-trailer he was driving weighs more than 13 tons.
“Legally, I wouldn’t even be able to come down this road empty,” Winowiecki said.
Second, he said the sign was placed in a location without warning and without a safe way to turn around the 42-foot big rig.
“It was rush hour. Cars coming at me. Cars coming behind me. There's nothing I can do. I'm just going to create a wreck if I try to do anything," Winowiecki said.
Before he made it to the cement plant listed on his work order located just outside the town limits, he saw police lights behind him.
The officer handed him a $1,030 ticket stamped “Gross weight of vehicle exceeded maximum."
"He basically told me he was going to get every truck going through here," Winowiecki said. "He told me he was going to get 'em.”
“It`s a scam," trucker Tim Temple said. "You can't turn around nowhere. "You can't back up nowhere. All you can do is go straight through town.”
Engle is calling for a trucker's boycott of Erie to protest the sneaky weight limit ordinance.
“I will not buy fuel here. I won't buy my tires. Anything here. They got my thousand bucks, but they're not going to get any of my business anymore," he said.
All three truckers went to traffic court in December and lost their pleas. They were also the last three truckers to get under the town’s even stricter fine structure for overweight trucks.
On Jan. 20, the 13-ton limit ticket went from $1,030 to $2,650.
According to court records, Erie police snagged at least 28 truckers in 2016 for driving through their town. All of the citations were handed out by the same officer, Alfredo Nevarez.
He declined comment, as did police chief Kim Stewart, who had a town spokesperson send an email.
“I understand you would prefer that someone from the Town speak to you on camera, but as I previously informed you we will not be making those resources available," the email read.
A traffic court judge barred cameras from the courtroom at the city prosecutor's request.
But behind closed doors, Nevarez admitted in Winowiecki's case, he didn't weigh the truck before giving out the ticket. Still, the judge ruled for the town, and Winowiecki and the others had to pay up.
“I don't think the signs are legit,” Winowiecki said. "They're not in the right positions for us to know we shouldn't be on these roads.”
Erie's boundaries encompass parts of Interstate 25, Highway 52, Highway 287, Highway 7 and County Line Road.
It's a six-mile by five-mile swath of major thoroughfares where semitruck drivers run the risk of being fined for driving down the road.
No members of the elected Erie Board of Trustees responded to requests for comment.
"The Town of Erie takes traffic safety seriously -- especially along routes such as County Line Road which includes as many as three public schools," said Fred Diehl, assistant to the town administrator in an email.
"Weight limit signs have been properly posted for years. Our officers have issued warnings in an attempt to educate truck drivers of our local ordinances related to overweight vehicles. Our officers have called the out of town quarries to advise of the weight limit in town and suggested to the owners that they tell drivers not to drive through town with overweight loads.
"Yet, in spite of these proactive warnings and outreach, some drivers continue to exceed weight limits by 200 (percent) to 300 (percent)"
Drivers said that kind of language is hard to stomach. All their trucks were under the legal weight limit by state law, but not in Erie.
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A bill in the Kansas House of Representatives would allow heavier grain and livestock tractor-trailers on roads across the state.
“It adds up in the long run,” said Brian Koehn, who manages a trucking company. “From the financial side, it would definitely help us out to haul more weight.”
Right now, a six-axle tractor-trailer in Kansas can carry up to 85,000 pounds.
The bill would increase that to 90,000 pounds, which is about 50 more bushels per load.
Truckers say that can quickly add up to big bucks.
“Five loads, you’re looking at approximately you know 250 bushels,” said Koehn. “You take that times the rate, and yeah, it does make a difference.”
Neighboring states like Nebraska already have a 90,000 pound limit. Koehn says it’s caused problems when shipping across state lines.
“It is nice if we could load a legal load over there and be legal here also so we’re not worried about the difference in weight when we cross the state line.”
Critics of the bill say increasing the weight limit on trucks will have a negative impact on rail shipping.
Representatives from the rail industry testified about the concerns for the already struggling rail industry at a committee hearing.
The committee is also considering the impact on local bridges and roads and how more weight would affect cities and counties.
Pilot Flying J has announced the winners of its third annual Road Warrior campaign, with Jacqueline Rocha of Acworth, GA, Kevin Mailand of Lawrence, KS, and Charles Johnson of Dubuque, IA, named the grand, second and third place Road Warrior winners, respectively.
In September 2016, Pilot Flying J kicked off the annual online contest to thank professional drivers for keeping the nation moving by recognizing those who demonstrate hard work, perseverance and passion for their craft and asking Americans to nominate “heroes on the road” who go the extra mile to get the job done right. As winners of the third annual Road Warrior campaign, Rocha will receive $10,000, Mailand will receive $5,000 and Johnson will receive $2,500, and all will join an exclusive group of past program winners.
“We are always so inspired by the passion and determination of professional drivers,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “All three winners, and so many of their fellow drivers, are excellent representations of the professional driver community, and we are thrilled to recognize them with this Road Warrior honor.”
The new Road Warrior winners are each making strong contributions to the professional driving community in their own, unique ways:
“More than anything, I’m incredibly humbled to join a great group of past Road Warrior winners,” said Rocha. “I’ve met countless hardworking professional drivers over the course of my time behind the wheel, many of whom inspire me daily with their passion for this amazing industry. This award wouldn’t be possible without the mentors who came before me to help shape my career.”
To learn more about the Road Warrior program, view exclusive content and read up about the winners, visit RoadWarrior.PilotFlyingJ.com. To join the Road Warrior conversation, follow #RoadWarrior on social media.
Dutch navigation provider TomTom has jumped into the North American truck GPS business with its Trucker 600. TomTom is a giant in Europe but this is its first attempt to crack the truck navigation market on this continent. This device folds around a six-inch screen and comes with a secure locking mount so it won’t come tumbling off your windshield when the defrost fan is turned on. More important, it’s meant to be paired with a smartphone (either iPhone or Android system) to enable the traffic function and comes with an embedded chip so you won’t be dinged for roaming.
This is probably a clever move on TomTom’s part. Most truckers carry smartphones, and I daresay many are reliant on the navigation apps available on the small screen – talk about distracted driving. So, pairing the phone to the GPS via Bluetooth makes sense.
The device functions well enough without the phone-driven traffic function, but it’s worth connecting since it does come with lifetime traffic as well as lifetime trucking maps of Canada and the US. Also, TomTom’s MyDrive app allows you to plan a route on your home computer, send it to your phone, and when you start the truck in the morning the route will be automatically downloaded to the GPS.
The machine asks for your vehicle’s dimensions and GVW as well as supplying a separate platform for Hazmat. This should keep you on the truck routes and away from low bridges and residential areas.
The unit switches easily between truck, van, auto and bus modes, and has tons of data points. For instance, I was supposed to meet someone at a certain restaurant near Pearson
Airport and to my surprise it was listed (it wasn’t Hooters, but I’m sure that’s there, too).
Tap the Parking function and multiple municipal lots pop up, good for motorists but not so much for big rigs as most of those are inaccessible to Class 8 trucks.
The voice control is pretty neat as you can ask it to guide you to a pre-planned destination like work, or home, or a fuel stop. It will answer about a dozen commands like “When will I get there?” and “What’s the next instruction?”
You can also choose a voice from a surfeit of accents. Right now I’ve got an Irishman named Sean telling me when to turn, but the Trucker 600 also can communicate in 22 languages, from Danish to Latvian to Arabic.
When it comes to layout, simple is better, rather than besieging the operator with a plethora of options. One arrow takes you back to the previous screen, and the “…” icon brings you to the menu. The mapping is truck friendly and doesn’t try too hard to include buildings or scenery. Which is good, I like maps to look like maps.
One unique feature is the “route” bar, which appears as a translucent strip of data on the right part of the screen, providing information such as a changing ETA and traffic jams or construction on the way.
I like the functionality of the unit: the interactive voice is effective and the directions are solid. More crucial is that it connects quickly to satellites. I suggest taking it out of your vehicle and playing around with it while plugged into your computer or laptop. There are lots of intriguing functions to check out.
With a price tab of $399 it’s about competitive with the other top-of-the-line trucker GPS units. As I mentioned, it’s new to the marketplace so it’s currently only available from Amazon or from TomTom.com. A one-year warranty is offered directly from the manufacturer.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Thanks to a “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” issued by the White House on January 20, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has “temporarily delayed” the effective date of its final rule on minimum entry-level CDL training requirements until March 21.
However, while the rule’s effective date has been extended, the agency did not adjust the rule’s all-important compliance date— which remains February 7, 2020. In practical terms, that means this delay is only a move on paper.
On the other hand, the notice goes on to point out that FMCSA “may consider delaying the effective date of the above referenced regulation beyond March 21, 2017, consistent with the memorandum of the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff.” So, there could be another delay announced after this one— or not.
The agency explained that the “freeze” memorandum, issued by President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, directed agencies to temporarily postpone for 60 days from the date of the memo, the effective dates of certain regulations that had been published in the Federal Register, but had not yet taken effect.
“Because the original effective date of the final rule published on December 8, 2016, falls within that 60-day window, the effective date of the rule is delayed until March 21, 2017,” FMCSA stated.
Avery Vise, president of compliance consultancy TransComply, told HDT that in his view "the one thing we can take from FMCSA's response to the Priebus memo is that by delaying the effective date, DOT and FMCSA must believe they have discretion to discard the rule if they find it raises 'substantial questions of law or policy.'"
The rule was mandated by Congress under the MAP-21 highway bill, passed in 2012. FMSCA said the rule was based, in part, on recommendations of the agency’s Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee, a negotiated rulemaking committee that held a series of meetings in 2015.
Although applauded by trucking interests, including the American Trucking Associations, the rule remains controversial because it does not include a requirement for 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training for new drivers, which had been included in the notice of proposed rulemaking that FMCSA issued in March, 2016.
Indeed, a petition to reconsider provisions of the rule was filed with FMCSA by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways on December 21.
The petitioners wrote that they are concerned the rule will “not ensure that CDL applicants who can pass the state CDL skills test will spend any time actually operating a CMV on public roads with an experienced instructor encountering safety critical situations.”
However, in one of his last official acts as FMCSA administrator, Scott Darling denied the petition in letters to the petitioners dated January19. He rejected their argument largely on the basis that FMCSA's decision not to include the minimum behind-the-wheel requirements was "thoroughly explained" in the final rule.
"In support of your position that a minimum BTW hours requirement should be included in the final rule, you largely repeat points previously raised in your comments to the NPRM and in other public statements," Darling wrote to the petitioners. "Although you cite recent increases in the number of large truck crashes involving injuries and fatalities, you neither assert nor offer any evidence that a lack of driver training was the cause of – or even a factor in – any of those crashes."
In another wrinkle, it seems the agency has removed the electronic copies of Darling's letters to the petitioners from the official docket posted online. According to TransComply’s Vise, the denial letters had been posted at www.regulations.gov on January 25. However, he advised, “at some point since then the letters have been removed from the docket.”
Everyone knows that rush hour traffic in metro Atlanta can be hectic, to say the least.
But a new report from the American Transportation Research Institute names one DeKalb County interchange the worst in the country for trucking bottlenecks.
For the third year in a row, the intersection of I-285 and I-85 in DeKalb County, known to Atlanta natives as "Spaghetti Junction" was listed as the worst place in the U.S. for trucking bottlenecks, with the average speed through the area being 38 miles per hour.
This comes as no surprise to drivers like Kim Wright.
"285 and Spaghetti Junction a lot of 18 wheeler trucks come that route so it doesn't surprise me that much," Wright said.
"This list of 11 Major Mobility Improvement Projects, almost half that list are places on the top end of 285," Dale said. "So we understand it, we know there are bottle necks on 285."
The mobility projects will address some operation efficiencies at Spaghetti Junction. there is also interchange improvements planned at I-20 and 285 east and west and at 400/285 that should also help spaghetti junction.
"There are lots of things we are doing on the top end that will effect and sort of trickle down to make that difference at spaghetti junction," Dale said.
If you look at the average speed during rush hour (26 miles per hour), you can see why this intersection would be called the worst.
Two other highway intersections in metro Atlanta made the top 15, including where I-75 and I-285 meet in Cobb County and the intersection of I-20 and I-285 in Fulton County.
It beat out intersections in busy traffic areas like New Jersey, Chicago and Louisville for the dubious honor.
All locations in metro Atlanta featured on this list increased from last year's rankings. Check out the full report statistics on Spaghetti Junction here!