Driver news roundup: Got pets?

Driver news roundup: Got pets?

Carriers go pet-friendly; Walmart driver indicted; enforcement 'Eyes on 94'

Being puppy-friendly isn’t just the decent thing, it’s becoming a retention tool that has some carriers rethinking their pet policies. (Editor's note: If you have a pet for a co-driver, send us photos.)

USA Truck put made such a change in November. According to a business story in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Van Buren-based truckload carrier introduced what it calls the "Pet Pass" program, joining a growing number of trucking companies that are allowing drivers to take their furry companions with them as they haul freight nationwide.

A few requirements must be met to receive a pet pass—including a $500 nonrefundable deposit—but Billy Cartright, USA Truck's vice president of safety and recruiting, said the program has been a success and its popularity will grow, the story continued.

Similarly, J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. recently announced its truckload drivers could have a pet companion, but officials there declined an interview request from the newspaper. LTI Trucking Services, a St. Louis-based company, said nearly 40 percent of its drivers take their pets along for each route.

CalArk International Inc., which is based in Little Rock, has allowed its drivers to travel with pets for more than a decade, Vice President of Safety Dennis Hilton told the Democrat-Gazette.

"Any accommodation that you can make today to a driver and still meet your customers' needs and things, I think people need to do it or seriously consider it anyway," Hilton said.

Walmart driver indicted

The Walmart driver whose June 2014 crash on the New Jersey Turnpike killed one man and severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and three others was indicted Dec. 23. Kevin Roper faces charges of aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and eight counts of aggravated assault.

In an examination of the read-end collision between the tractor-trailer and the luxury passenger van, the National Transportation Safety Board determined Roper had been fatigued to do his 12-hour commute prior to starting his Walmart shift.

Roper's attorney unsuccessfully argued in September that criminal charges should be dropped against Roper after the release of the NTSB's findings, according to the ABC News report.

Here’s the ABC News coverage of the NTSB report:

'Eyes on 94' nets 542 driver inspections

The Michigan State Police (MSP) reports that the agency’s motor carrier officers conducted 542 commercial driver inspections during the five-day ‘Eyes on 94’ commercial vehicle crash reduction effort along the I-94 corridor last month.  

During this multi-state initiative, which involved officers from the Indiana State Police on I-94 and the Ohio Highway Patrol on I-80 and other major freeways, officers focused on violations by commercial vehicles most likely to contribute to a crash including speeding, following too closely, improper passing, distracted driving and improper lane use.  

During the enforcement, MSP motor carrier officers conducted over 542 driver inspections and issued 455 citations and 455 warnings. Officers in Indiana and Ohio issued an additional 471 citations and 1,618 warnings.  

The most common citation was for speeding, followed by improper lane use, improper passing, following too closely, using a handheld device and texting.  

In addition to the enforcement efforts, officers also distributed over 200 DVDs to motorists at rest areas along I-94 corridor regarding the safety precautions all drivers should take when driving near commercial vehicles.  The DVDs were provided through a partnership with the Michigan Center for Truck Safety.    

This initiative was part of the statewide Toward Zero Deaths traffic safety campaign, based on the national strategy on highway safety that seeks to reduce the number of traffic deaths on the nation’s freeways. 

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