A little relief?

| June 01, 2006

The department’s Transportation Security Administration “has taken preliminary steps to identify a contractor to assist with the enrollment of TWIC,” the department said in a release. TSA will soon issue a notice of proposed rulemaking, the next step in adopting a transport ID card.

Workers who apply for the card will undergo a more thorough criminal background check that will include biometrics, probably a fingerprint check, although the department hasn’t spelled out the details.
-Sean Kelley

NTSB Renews Call for Crash Avoidance Systems
The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that the principal cause of an accident that killed eight people in Illinois was the tractor-trailer driver’s failure to slow as the truck approached vehicles waiting at a toll plaza. A contributing cause, NTSB said, was the intermittent traffic backup created by vehicles stopping for the toll plaza.

The investigation – the results of which were released April 18 – determined that the truck driver did not notice traffic slowing ahead of him and that a collision warning system might have prevented the accident. NTSB, therefore, reiterated its previous recommendations issued in 2001 calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create standards for collision warning systems and to require their installation on all newly-manufactured commercial vehicles.

“It’s terrible to see an accident like this when we have the technology to prevent it,” said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker. “It’s time to put those technologies to work – saving lives.”

However, some trucking associations have opposed mandating the gear, which can cost in excess of $3,000. “They have a tendency to promote overconfidence in the driver,” Todd Spencer, vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told the reporters.

NTSB also recommended guidelines on toll plaza design that emphasize electronic toll collection to reduce queuing. And the board called on the Department of Transportation and NHTSA to conduct more research and, eventually, a rulemaking on how to deal with the large weight differences between heavy trucks and other highway vehicles.
-From Staff Reports

Rollicking Road Show
Until now, truckers saw a truckstop as the place to take a shower, get a clean bathroom and refill tanks and stomachs alike. Things have changed. America’s Traveling Truck
Show has turned the parking lots of the Petro stations into exhibition areas for truck equipment distributors, engine and trucks manufacturers and other suppliers.

The traveling show, which started in Wheeler, Calif., was in New Mexico at the end of April. Shy at first, one by one the truckers jumped off their cabs and approached the booths set up in the middle of the truck parking area of the Petro Truck Stop at Milan.

The truckstop is one driving hour from Albuquerque, in the middle of a desert surrounded by Navajo and other Indian reservations. The sun is high, and the sky has no clouds, but the wind tempers the heat, encouraging the drivers to stretch their legs while roaming freely through the tents and installations.

“What’s this all about?” asks one driver.

“We are bringing the truck shows to the truckstops, getting them closer to the truckers who don’t have the time to go to the big shows like Mid-America in Kentucky, or GATS in Dallas,” says Randy Schwartzenburg, executive director of ATTS.

A U.S. Xpress driver sits under the ATTS tent, filling out her information to enter the sweepstakes for the “Truckers Dream Package,” which offers cash prizes, Nascar tickets, equipment and leather jackets from different sponsors. She used to drive with her late husband and now she is thinking about becoming an owner-operator herself. Next to her, Herman Littig, on his way to Georgia, gets a stub for a free dessert in the Iron Skillet restaurant.

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