Opposing parties

| April 01, 2006

The 21-year-old driver had worked for Blossom less than two weeks. He had never driven an air-braked vehicle before joining the company and had received no training on how to drive one, the board said. Also, the rear truck brakes were out of adjustment, the board said.
Moreover, mechanics misdiagnosed the truck’s brake problems, the board said. Having readily available and accurate information about automatic slack adjusters and stronger warnings against manual adjustment would have helped, the board said.

The accident was similar to a California truck accident the same year in which mechanics did not look for underlying problems with the slack adjusters or other brake components, the NTSB noted.
-Jill Dunn

New Hazmat Penalties Go Into Effect
Revised penalties for federal hazardous materials transportation violations became effective Feb. 17. Some fines went up; others went down.

The changes result from the long-term transportation bill President Bush signed in August.

The changes include:

  • The maximum civil penalty was increased from $32,500 to $50,000 for a knowing violation, and to $100,000 if the violation results in death, serious illness or severe injury to any person, or substantial destruction of property.

  • The minimum civil penalty has dropped from $275 to $250, except a minimum civil penalty of $450 applies to a training violation.
  • Criminal penalties now apply to both reckless and willful violations of federal hazardous materials transportation law or the regulations, orders, special permits and approvals issued.
  • The maximum criminal penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for a corporation were retained. But the maximum imprisonment has been upped to 10 years in any case in which the violation involves the release of a hazardous material that results in death or bodily injury.

-Jill Dunn

GATF Contest
Truckers News is looking for its 2005 Great American Trucking Family. Members of the winning family will be featured on the cover of the August Truckers News and will be our guests at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. An entry form is included in this issue and must be postmarked by May 1 or e-mailed by that date to Executive Editor John Latta at jlatta@rrpub.com. Online entry forms are available at this site.

Judge Halts Toll Increase
West Virginia Turnpike tolls have been rolled back to 2005 rates after a state judge issued a temporary injunction against a 65 percent increase for trucks. On Feb. 13, Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger granted a temporary injunction against rates that increased tolls on Jan. 1 from $4.25 to $7 for a five-axle truck. Passenger car rates climbed 60 percent, from $1.25 to $2.

Anti-Idling Tax Break
Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, would give a tax credit to commercial fleets that buy idle-reduction equipment. The Idle Reduction Tax Act of 2006, H.R. 4672, proposes a 25 percent tax credit, up to $1,000, for each such device a fleet buys.

Aging Canadian Driver Force
In 2004, for the first time, Canadian truckers ages 55 and older outnumbered those 30 and younger, indicating the nation faces a driver shortage similar to that of the United States. About 18 percent of Canadian truckers were ages 55 and older, compared to an average of 13 percent for all other industries, according to Statistics Canada, the nation’s central statistics agency.

Cat Takes Top Ranking
For the fifth consecutive time, J.D. Power and Associates ranks the Caterpillar C-15 highest in customer satisfaction among vocational heavy-duty truck diesel engines. The study measured customer satisfaction in three areas: engine quality and warranty, engine performance and engine noise and vibration.

International Recalls Trucks
International Truck and Engine is recalling International 5000 and 9000 trucks from model years 2004 and 2005 that have Caterpillar engines – 1,371 trucks in all.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued the recall in December because on certain engines, the variable valve actuation oil line could wear against the cylinder head and break the line if not positioned correctly. An oil leak and fire could result.

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