KY cracks down on trucks on rural roads | Mexico, Texas spat over inspections at border

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023: 

Patrols on off-limits rural routes increasing in Kentucky

Authorities in the state of Kentucky are directing truck drivers to stay off rural roads in the state, with new signs and officers patrolling, especially on state route 286. 

“This is a recurring issue as drivers try to save on time and fuel,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Chief District Engineer Kyle Poat said. “But our rural secondary roads were not built for regular through-travel by vehicles of such size and weight.”   

KY Hwy 286 crosses southern Ballard County and forms a cut-through between Wickliffe and Paducah, and in the last three years there have been 119 crashes, 40 injury crashes and 5 fatality crashes along just more than 16 miles of that road, though only about 30 of the crashes involved a Class 8 truck. Of the 24 most recent crashes on KY 286, about half involved commercial trucks, KYTC said. 

“NO TRUCK” signs have been installed at each end of KY 286 and at state highway intersections, and truck-enforcement officers have also stepped-up patrols and written numerous citations.

“The signs will help with enforcement efforts as additional cases come up in district court,” Officer Mark Townsend said. “The legal responsibility falls on the CDL-carrying professional driver. The driver is required to follow a route that keeps the truck on the National Truck Network.”   

KYTC recommends cross-country truckers traveling between Wickliffe and Paducah follow U.S. 60. 

KYTC seemed to blame the "widespread use of cell phone GPS mapping apps created for passenger vehicles" for large trucks "ending up on inappropriate routes," and also steering truckers toward roads with low passes, like U.S. 45 or KY 307.

[Related: Do CDL drivers need to know English? Another truck stuck in Vermont's Smuggler's Notch]

Border truck inspections prompt Texas, Mexico dispute  

Mexico’s president intends to send a diplomatic note to the United States protesting Texas truck inspections that he says have delayed 19,000 trucks at the border. 

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to enforce additional truck inspections was “very irresponsible” and politically motivated.

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Mexico’s national freight transport chamber said Sunday that the 19,000 rigs, carrying about $1.9 billion in goods, were delayed at the border due to Texas' enhanced inspections, which began again in September in an effort to “deter the placement of migrants and other smuggling activity," according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. 

Mexican President López Obrador called Gov. Abbott “very irresponsible” for stepping up the inspections, according to the Associated Press. 

“We are going to send a diplomatic note today to protest the Texas governor’s attitude of putting up obstacles to free transit on our borders without any reason, but rather with political motivations,” López Obrador said. “He is using the immigration issue to play politics.”

An influx of migrants crossing the border lately further complicates the issue, with Abbott and President Joe Biden far apart on efforts to resolve.

[Related: Texas DPS resumed enhanced border inspections

Warning: New cargo-theft-tactic in SoCal

According to an alert from the Overhaul company, freight misdirection at receiving facilities is targeting loads of high-value cargo. The M.O. in new cases seen is for thieves posing as facility employees -- often wearing safety vests and carrying clipboards -- to approach drivers parked outside busy facilities waiting. They represent themselves as agents of the facility, directing the truck operators to park in a designated location, typically just around a corner and out of view of the facility gates or security cameras. They then escort the driver toward the facility office to "check in," Overhaul said.  

While this is happening, accomplices open the trailer and pilfer their targeted cargo into a cargo van.  

Suspects, Overhaul said, attempt to appear official, using any combination of safety vests, hard hats, clipboards or even company-logo'd work shirts to project authority. Any model of cargo van or box-truck could be used in the scheme.  

Overhaul recommended shippers of high value consumer electronics or other commonly targeted, high-demand products make delivering operators well aware of any special procedures for checking in before arrival. Receiving facilities should be vigilant for suspicious activity, including signs of surveillance or individuals posing as employees approaching drivers.

Drivers should remain wary of individuals approaching them outside of busy facilities or in contravention of outlined procedures. An immediate escalation process with a path to effective law enforcement engagement, Overhaul added. is critical to recognizing and recovering cargo once it has been stolen.

[Related: California investigators bust $150 million cargo theft ring]  

Aerodynamic mudflaps now standard spec on Utility trailers 

Michelin Energy Flaps are now the standard spec for mudflaps on Utility trailers, available to all Utility OEM dealers, the companies said.

Michelin has started to roll out the new 24-by-28-inch flap specifically for Utility Trailer chassis. 

“The Michelin Energy Flap is designed to increase safety with optimally dispersed water spray downward, away,” said Pierluigi Cumo, business-to-business VP of marketing for Michelin North America, Inc.

With ultraviolet resistance and the ability to withstand operating temperatures from -40 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the low-flex and anti-sail design is built to significantly reduce aerodynamic drag, keeping the flaps straight while the vehicle is in motion. A patented mounted surface assures optimal installation without drilling. The flap is made with up to 60%-80% recycled materials. Find more about Michelin Energy Guard products via the Energy Guard website.

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