Overdrive Staff | January 04, 2011

According to research by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute cited by FMCSA, using a handheld cell phone while driving significantly increases the likelihood of an accident or safety-critical event. In particular, reaching for an object while driving triples the crash risk, and dialing a phone number into a handheld phone while driving increases crash risk six times.

While the VTTI study showed increased crash risks for using handheld cell phones while driving, the same research showed that having a conversation on a handheld or hands-free mobile device was a low-risk activity that only requires a driver to look away from the road for a brief period. FMCSA says “it is not clear if simply talking on a mobile telephone presents a significant risk,” and the proposal doesn’t prohibit hands-free phone use while driving, as was recommended to the agency by the National Transportation Safety Board.

A 60-day public comment period will begin once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and forms to submit comments are at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/, then click on the News Release about the proposal and then click on the Related Links for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

— Jeff Crissey

LA port program adds Class 7 trucks

Los Angeles Harbor Commission on Dec. 16 approved two measures to strengthen its enforcement of the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program that targets emissions.

The commission approved a measure to incorporate Class 7 trucks into the program and a measure to strengthen enforcement against “drayoffs,” a practice that involves switching cargo from a CTP-compliant truck to a noncompliant truck within the Harbor District or adjacent public streets.

– Staff reports n

Bill adds truck weight program

A provision has been added to an omnibus government funding bill that would extend the Maine and Vermont truck weight pilot program for one year.

The provision – secured on Dec. 14 by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) – would ensure the pilot program will continue giving heavier six-axle trucks full access to interstate highways in Maine and Vermont.

Prior to the pilot program, introduced last year by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) And Collins, commercial vehicles weighing more than 80,000 pounds often were barred from interstate travel and diverted onto state and local roads. The Obama administration and Maine DOT both have supported the permanent extension of the pilot program and have credited it with having improved safety and productivity on Maine and Vermont highways.

“Thanks to Senator Collins, it’s likely that truck transportation in Maine and Vermont will continue to be safe, efficient and productive in the coming year,” said John Runyan, executive director of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a group of 180 shippers and allied associations backing increased federal weight limits on interstate highways.

The Senate must now pass the omnibus funding bill and send it back to the U.S. House of Representatives for its approval.

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