Friday, February 3, 2017

PSA – Don’t pass the plow

After the second snowplow in as many weeks was run off the road by a truck driver, it seems like a good time to review a few best practices when operating around the plows. Multiple crashes between commercial trucks and snowplows in the mountains out west suggest that it is time for young and even experienced drivers to review guidelines for safe traveling around those work vehicles. Maybe veteran drivers can share these with some of the younger guys and gals they mentor.

The latest crash occurred around 12:34 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, on Interstate 84 near Pendleton, Ore. According to reports, 38-year-old Bryon Kilmer, of Sweet Home, Ore., was cited for unsafe passing on the right after he attempted to pass an Oregon DOT snowplow and instead ended up knocking the vehicle off the road.

Earlier last month, a Utah DOT plow driver was seriously injured when another tractor-trailer passed a plow on the right and struck the vehicle, sending it careening through a guardrail and 300 feet down a snow-covered canyon.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch wrote about a freezing trucker

Seems Judge Neil Gorsuch, nominee for the Supreme Court, was on a panel of judges who heard a trucking case while he served on the federal appeals court in Denver. The carrier, TransAm, appealed a ruling by the Labor Department that was favorable to a driver who said he was unjustly fired.

Last August, the court found in favor of the Labor Department and thus the driver. Judge Gorsuch did not like the decision and wrote a dissent.

The case goes back to 2009 when a TransAm driver was fired for dropping a trailer on I-88 in Illinois and driving away. Those are the bare facts; there’s more to it.

About 11 p.m. on an extremely cold January night, the driver pulled over for 10 minutes or so, enough time for his trailer brakes to freeze. He called in and was told to wait for assistance. Then he discovered his APU wasn’t working; there was no heat in the cab. The driver fell asleep only to wake up two hours later unable to feel his feet. So he called in again and was told to “hang in there.” Half an hour after that, the driver called again to say he was taking the tractor and going for help. He was told not to leave the load, but left anyway. He came back, presumably with his feet unfrozen, to find the trailer repaired. A week later, TransAm fired him for abandoning the load.

The case has caught some attention in the trucking media again after Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court.