Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My neck size? Excuse me?

Over the past few days, Land Line Now on Sirius XM radio has been reporting on the fatigue driving evaluation checklist, a tool used by patrol officers in two states to determine whether truckers are “fatigued.” The special series is written and voiced by Host Mark Reddig. And it’s created quite a stir.

The fatigue questionnaire is in use by Minnesota and Indiana state police, and in both states it’s voluntary.

The list was created by Captain Ken Urquhart, a District Commander with the State Police with the Commercial Enforcement Division.

It wants to know details like what is your neck size, do you have a TV, cell phone, computer inside the sleeper, and so on. Is there a pet in the truck? Is there a full wastebasket? Do you have reading material? Empty soda cans present? Do you have dental problems?

Urquhart has been part of Commercial Enforcement since 1997, roughly 12 years. Mark says in the interest of fairness, he wanted to give Urquhart the chance to respond to some of the concerns others had raised about the checklist, and about the process that checklist is part of.

So Mark called the captain for a talk. I had the opportunity to preview the interviews Mark did for the show. The last one I did as I ate lunch at my desk, and twice nearly choked on a French fry. Aside from the checklist being ridiculous in its assumptions, truckers often are unaware that they’re going through an interview process that can result in an OOS tag or big fine.

I’m simply speechless.

So part three airs Wednesday night. Meanwhile, OOIDA continues to get calls from truckers who say they are not fatigued, and who do have hours on their logbook to drive, but who are being put out of service for getting too many checkmarks on the list and the process that goes with it.

Tomorrow, Mark says Land Line Now will wrap up the series on the fatigued driving checklist – which also is being used in Indiana – with a look at consequences. And he tells me he will look at the case of another trucker who had a permissible medical condition that ended up being used against him by an officer using the checklist.

If you have satellite radio, you just can’t miss this one. That’s Sirius Channel 147 and XM 171, 7-8 p.m. and 11 p.m.-12 a.m. EST.

You’ll be speechless, too. Or maybe not.