Drivers asked to ‘stay off roads’ as whiteout conditions cause 250 crashes

Pennsylvania authorities are cautioning drivers to keep off the roads as severe winter weather conditions have caused over 250 crashes in the central and western parts of the state.

As snow creates whiteout conditions and slippery roadways, PennDOT has shut down northbound I-83 from the Maryland border to Exit 38. Southbound I-83 is closed from Exit 36 to Exit 43. It isn’t clear when the interstate will reopen.

Numerous crashes have been also been reported on I-81.

Weather conditions have been deemed so dangerous that speed limits have been dropped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. From the Donegal Interchange at Exit 91 to the Valley Forge Interchange at Exit 326, the speed limit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike has been reduced to 45 m.p.h.

PennDOT announced this afternoon that the speed limit has been reduced to 45 m.p.h. statewide.

Authorities in Montgomery County have reported more than 250 crashes and 350 disabled vehicles since noon today. Four inches of snow have already fallen on the area.

The Montgomery County Department of Public Safety is asking drivers to “please stay off the roads.”

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Arkansas DOT blames I-40 gridlock on ‘sleeping truck drivers’

Arkansas DOT blames I-40 gridlock on

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (DOT) says that they’re having trouble getting traffic moving after an overnight interstate shutdown because of truckers who simply went to sleep on the road.

Last night around 8:30 p.m., Arkansas transportation officials shut down the White River Bridge on westbound I-40 near mile marker 200 because of icy conditions and “recurring accidents.”

Arkansas DOT

Arkansas DOT

The interstate shutdown left many drivers stranded for more than 10 hours. Many truck drivers found themselves stuck in traffic for so long that they simply went to sleep in their trucks on I-40.

Arkansas DOT was able to get all lanes of westbound I-40 open for the morning rush hour today, but they say that there are still severe traffic backups between mile markers 205 and 223 caused by “sleeping truck drivers.”

In another tweet, Arkansas DOT wrote, “Prairie Co: all lanes are open on I-40 at the White River Bridge. WB Traffic is slow to recover due to recurring accidents, ice formations, and vehicle operators that simply went to sleep while in the queue at some point.

Arkansas State Police are attempting to wake the sleeping truck drivers by blaring their sirens and by knocking on truck doors, according to reporting from KARK.

Arkansas DOT

Arkansas DOT

Many drivers stuck in the traffic jam have been tweeting at Arkansas DOT expressing their frustration as they run low on fuel, food, and patience.

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Truckers get into scuffle over parking spot at TA

A truck driver was arrested in Florida this week when a dispute over another trucker’s parking job turned into an attempted attack on the sleeping driver.

The incident took place on Sunday, November 11 at the TA Travel Center in in Wildwood, Florida, according to a report from Villages News.

Truck Stop Scuffle

Truck Stop Scuffle

The fight began when 51 year old Michigan-based truck driver Brian James Cozzie noticed that another driver had taken up two truck parking spots. Police say that Cozzie knocked on the truck to wake the sleeping truck driver to ask him to move.

When the truck driver refused to re-park his truck, Cozzie then used a Thermos to break out one of the truck’s windows. The police report indicates that the parked truck driver believed the Cozzie was reaching for a gun in his waistband, so he fired his own weapon into the air to warn Cozzie to get away from the truck.

No injuries were reported.

Cozzie was arrested and faces felony charges of burglary, criminal mischief, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen truckers attacking fellow drivers over parking. In April, a truck driver was arrested on attempted murder charges when a parking disagreement at an Arizona truck stop took a violent turn. And last November, a parking argument between two truck drivers at a Pilot Truck Stop in Hesperia, California, led to a stabbing.

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CVSA tells officers not to wake up sleeping drivers, leave off-duty truckers alone

CVSA

New guidance from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) tells inspection officers that they must leave truck drivers alone when they are off-duty or in the sleeper berth.

In late September, the CVSA updated its operational policy on how to select vehicles for inspection. Included in this update are instructions that forbid inspectors from waking or disturbing truck drivers who are on break as long as they are legally parked.

The policy update reads:

Certified inspectors shall not disturb/interrupt any driver of a commercial motor vehicle in off-duty or sleeper berth status when legally parked for the purpose of conducting a random inspection.

The new policy would still allow an inspector to wake a sleeping trucker to have him move his truck if it is illegally parked.

The policy update is the CVSA’s attempt to create uniform inspection standards. It isn’t legally binding, but it does help both drivers and inspectors understand how federal authorities advise them to proceed when a driver is on a rest break.

The new policy addresses a subject which has been a hot button issue in trucking for years now. Many drivers argue that interrupting a federally mandated rest break for a random inspection forces a truck driver to violate Hours of Service regulations and could increase the risk of a crash by interrupting a driver’s sleep.

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Trucking company owner sentenced to a year in prison for lying about hazmat load

A Montana trucking company was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million worth of fines following an explosion that seriously injured three workers — and the attempted coverup that followed.

On Friday, November 9, a U.S. District judge sentenced 57 year old Donald E. Wood, Jr., owner of Woody’s Trucking LLC, to a year and a day in prison along with $1,289,370.40 in fines and restitution.

Wood was found guilty in May of 2018 on multiple charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, and hazardous materials shipping paper and placarding violations.

The charges stem from a 2012 incident during which Wood tried to cover up the fact that the company was hauling hazmat without placards days after an explosion at an oil recycling plant.

Explosion

Explosion

The explosion happened on December 29, 2012, in Wibaux, Montana, after a Woody’s Trucking driver picked up a load of natural gas condensate, or “drip gas” in North Dakota and delivered it to Custom Carbon Processing, Inc.’s facility. However, the load’s bills of lading identified the driver’s load as “slop oil and water,” which isn’t hazardous.

“On the date of the explosion, the driver was pumping from the truck’s front tank into the CCP facility, when flammable vapors from the drip gas ignited and caused an explosion, injuring three employees. The tanks on the truck burned for eight days. It was determined later that the truck contained drip gas and not slop oil and water,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The CCP facility was destroyed by the explosion.

Days after the explosion, Wood reportedly told another one of his drivers to place a falsified bill of lading in the burned out truck. A falsified bill of lading was also submitted to the insurance company and to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Woody’s Trucking employees later sued their company and the CCP facility for negligence.

Truck driver Kelly Steen, who was contracted by Woody’s Trucking, was separately convicted in 2015 on a felony charge of transportation of hazardous materials without a placard and sentenced to three years of probation and a $2000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Dake says that Wood “engag[ed] in deceitful, fraudulent and dangerous conduct, manipulating his otherwise legitimate business practices, in order to line his own pockets.

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Trump adminstation announces surprise plan for stricter truck emissions

Trump's EPA announces surprise truck emissions initiative

Today the Trump administration debuted a new plan designed to crack down on emissions from heavy duty trucks.

The new program comes courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is being called the “Cleaner Trucks Initiative”.

The EPA says that the new initiative is the just first step in rewriting current rules on nitrogen oxide, or “NOx,” emissions from semi trucks.

EPA

The announcement comes as California lawmakers are pushing for tougher truck emissions regulations. Because these new regulations could conflict with federal regulations, the EPA is working with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to create unified nationwide emissions rules. “It is my hope that we can continue to work together and reach one national standard,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

It has been nearly twenty years since the last time that the EPA updated NOx emissions regulations for heavy duty trucks.  Details about the new plan are scarce and officials say that it will be 2020 before any definitive emissions rules are written.

Environmental groups like the American Lung Association are pleased with the announcement. “This is a positive step and may be the first thing this EPA has done that will actually reduce air pollution,” the group told the Washington Post.

The Cleaner Trucks Initiative comes as a surprise as the Trump administration has taken a hard stance against overregulation and has significantly relaxed several rules designed to protect the environment.

Industry experts point to the Democratic party’s takeover of the House of Representatives following the November election as a possible motive for the sudden plan for stricter truck emissions.

You can take a look at video of the Cleaner Trucks Initiative announcement below.

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Two large spools fall of semi, forcing motorist to scatter

Two large spools were knocked off a semi truck and left in the middle of a Houston highway on Monday, making it the second time in a month that spools of equipment have been loose on the city’s freeways.

The incident happened on November 12th on Interstate 10 at Wayside in Houston, Texas.

According to ABC 13 News, 57-year-old truck driver Walter Pene was hauling his load along I-10 west when he went beneath an overpass and “felt a bump.” He then checked his mirrors and quickly realized that he had struck the top of a bridge, sending his load of fiber optic casing crashing off his trailer and onto the freeway, blocking two westbound lanes.

The scene caused major traffic backups as crews worked to remove the enormous spools from the road, but the incident has since been cleared.

Officials say that the spools weighed around 18,000 pounds each, similar to the faspool knocked loose on the same highway back in October, which sent motorists scattering as it rolled down the highway.

The Texas Department of Transportation says that overheight loads are a major issue in Houston and that Pene was cited for the incident.

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OSHA fines trucking company after ‘on-site dangers’ leads to employees death

Personal Conveyance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concluded their investigation into the death of a U.S. Xpress employee.

An accident in April involving the death of an employee prompted the OSHA investigation.

The incident took place at the Dollar Tree Distribution Center in Savannah, Georgia, when a yard truck struck the man while he was walking between two semi-tractor trailers. The truck had dragged the man for some distance before the driver realized what had happened. The accident ultimately lead to his death.

Source: Savannah Police

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA issued a citation to Dollar Tree Express and U.S. Xpress for exposing their workers to hazards and on-site dangers that lead to the death of an employee.

In addition to these citations, the press release from OSHA notes that The Dollar Tree Distribution Center was also cited specifically for the following reasons: “using a vehicle with a non-functioning headlight, failing to guard a nip point on a conveyor discharge belt, and storing unstable materials on racks.”

In detail, U.S Xpress Inc. faces penalties of $12,934, and Dollar Tree Distribution Center Inc. faces penalties of $130,112.

After the accident, Dollar Tree gave a statement to a local news sources that said, “Safety is always our first priority and we are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

However, OSHA’s Savannah Area Director, Margo Westmoreland, seems to disagree. She says, “This tragedy could have been prevented had the employer assessed the workplace for hazards and taken action to eliminate the safety risks to employees.”

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Trucker buys dinner for a bus full of veterans

Trucker buys dinner for a bus full of veterans

A trucker recently picked up the tab at a restaurant to show a group of veterans how much he respects them for their service.

The incident took place on September 11, 2018, when Ohio-based truck driver John Meiring stopped for a bite at the Robbie’s Spaghetti House restaurant in Ottawa.

Meiring noticed a bus outside the restaurant labeled “Vets on Wheels” and was moved to act to show the group of veterans a sign of respect.

Meiring approached the table and told the the group, “I want to pay for the meals for all the veterans.

The veterans were stunned by the kind gesture from a total stranger. “I said, ‘Are you kidding?” veteran Phil Lepage recalled.

“It put a smile on everybody’s face. It’s going to be one of my greatest memories of my life. It warmed my heart immensely that I could do this for them,” Meiring told CTV.

Meiring says that he was moved to pay for the dinners in part because of his son, who is serving in Afghanistan. He also pointed out that he wanted to give them something back in honor of soldiers who lost their lives in service to their country. “A lot have made the ultimate sacrifice and never came home. I want people to think about that,” he said.

Trucker buys dinner for a bus full of veterans

Robyn Orazietti, a staff member with the Perley and Rideau Veterans Health Centre said that Meiring’s act of kindness will be remembered for a long time to come. “I think every outing we go on, we’ll always be thinking about our night at Robbie’s and a truck driver from Ohio,” she said.

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UPS Freight avoids 11,000 driver strike, reaches labor agreement

UPS Freight

UPS Freight announced that they’ll be back to business as usual after averting a potential strike involving more than 11,000 workers.

On Sunday night, UPS Freight announced that they came to a five year agreement with union members representing 11,600 workers, according to a report from Business Insider.

In preparation for a possible strike, UPS Freight had stopped accepting customer shipments to avoid having them stuck in supply chain limbo, but now the company says that they have reused operations as usual.

Teamsters say that of the 84% of workers who voted to accept the contract, 77% voted yes.

Union members admitted that the workers did not receive all of the benefits that they were seeking, but the the new contract does curtail subcontracting while improving vacation and pension benefits.

Many UPS Freight employees are still unhappy with the contract. “The contract pretty much caters to the new employees,” Florida-based worker Tanya Finley said.

The last time that UPS experienced a work stoppage was in 1997.

UPS says that it is pleased that the strike was averted and an agreement reached: “We are pleased that the UPS Freight agreement has been ratified. It is an agreement that rewards our employees for their contributions to the success of the company, while enabling UPS to remain competitive.”

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