This week’s round-up of bite-sized news from the wide world of trucking features another state getting rid of split speed limits, a bunch of bad guys in trucking, truckers versus ambulance chasers, and roads versus winter.
Thanks, but no thanks: Count Arkansas as the latest state—and one of the last remaining—to do away with split speed limits. The Arkansas Highway Commission decided to remove the 65 mph speed limit for heavy trucks on rural interstates, and Arkansas Department of Highway and Transportation employees are scheduled to take down the old speed limit signs for trucks this week. But a quick survey by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette found that big trucking companies weren’t particularly thrilled, even as the state trucking association supported the move.
Family business: A father and son criminal duo from the Kansas City area have received lengthy prison sentences for their roles in a 14-year conspiracy to steal more than $1.2 million worth of trucks, trailers and cargo, the Kansas City Business Journal reports. The team operated a series of trucking companies, and provided an accomplice and co-defendant “a shopping list” of the equipment they needed, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Another felon: Turns out the truck driver who failed to maneuver his oversized rig through a railroad crossing, derailing an Amtrak train and injuring 55 people last week, is a convicted felon with a long history of traffic citations, court records show. He has been cited for at least a dozen traffic violations, including speeding and driving with a revoked license, according to records reviewed and confirmed by The Associated Press. One of his more recent arrests came in 2012 in Illinois, where records show he was cited while hauling an overweight load, and then failed to appear in court. Let’s not get into his even more serious crimes.
Truckers vs. trial lawyers: … and “the truckers sure aren’t happy,” according to this long look at the changes being discussed to the minimum amount of insurance a motor carrier must have. The Cleveland.com report also notes that “the issue is both financial and emotional,” and that automobile drivers are responsible for 3 in 4 truck-involved accidents.
Spring Thaw: Spring truck weight restrictions on state highways began March 13 for Minnesota's North-Central and North frost zones, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. MnDOT limits truck weights to prevent damage to roads weakened during the spring thaw. Spring truck weight restrictions for the South, Southeast and Metro frost zones are in effect as of March 11, and for the Central frost zone, March 12. Ending dates for spring load restrictions will be established by monitoring roadway strength as weather conditions change. Road restriction maps showing the locations of weight-restricted routes and state highways open to maximum 10-ton axle weights are listed at www.dot.state.mn.us/materials.
Rust never sleeps: Speaking of long winters, this piece on Slate.com makes the case that rust doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being a truly destructive force. Indeed, rust should be considered a natural disaster. This story isn’t essentially about trucking, but that’s kind of the point. Rust is sneaky and you hae to pay attention. (And there are some cool photos.)