This week’s round-up of bite-sized news from the wide world of trucking features a NHTSA initiative to mandate speed limiters on trucks; a famous outlaw trucker’s slowing down; another famous actor and his measly fine for crashing into a semi; lack of progress on more and safer truck parking; and a main-stream magazine’s look at trucking’s “fitness guru.”
Need for speed? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will push for quick action on a regulation requiring electronic speed limiters on big rigs, and the agency might also contact states about speed limits that are higher than commercial truck tires are designed to handle.
Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator, discussed the issues with reporters ahead of his speech at a safety symposium in New York last week.
Rosekind said NHTSA's top option is the speed-limiting device requirement that would prevent trucks from going over 75 mph, according to the Associated Press report. But the proposed regulation has been stalled for years amid government rulemaking procedures and required reviews. Rosekind noted that the proposal has the support of the American Trucking Assns.
He was responding to questions about an AP investigation that found most heavy truck tires aren't designed to travel more than 75 mph, yet 14 states now have truck speed limits of 75 or greater.
Bandit on the block? Speaking of speed, here’s the latest item from the “when trucking was cool” file: Smokey and the Bandit star Burt Reynolds is putting his black Pontiac Trans Am on the auction block.
It’s not the original ride from the movie (Reynolds previously let that one go for a mere $450,000) but it is a fully restored “tribute car,” a 1977 Special Edition Y82 model with a Hurst T-Top, black deluxe interior and a 6.6-liter engine—and signed by ol’ Bandit himself, MotorAuthority.com reports.
The winning bidder will also receive the Florida title showing it was registered to Reynolds, along with an autographed racing jacket and cowboy hat.
The car will cross the block at a Carlisle Auctions event in Carlisle, PA, April 23-24.
Nerd vs. big rig? In other celebrity trucking news, "Revenge of the Nerds" star Robert Carradine has paid the careless driving fine stemming from a serious crash with a tractor-trailer in southwestern Colorado.
The 61 year old actor mailed a $169.50 payment to the Department of Revenue after he was ticketed for colliding with a semi-trailer on Colorado Highway 145 east of Dolores, according to CortezJournal.com.
Both lanes of traffic were closed for more than two hours after Carradine’s 2003 Mercury Marauder crossed the centerline and collided with a southbound semi March 5. Carradine and his wife were both wearing seatbelts, and neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the crash, the state patrol said.
But seriously. It’s been six years since trucker Jason Rivenberg’s life ended over the $7 he had in his pocket, and despite repeated efforts Congress still hasn’t been able to get behind legislation to honor his memory by funding the expansion of safe truck parking facilities across the country.
“Jason’s Law wants to help redesign public rest areas to be available to truck drivers,” Jason’s widow, Hope, recently told Scranton (PA) Times-Tribune. “We want existing facilities, like weigh stations, to include a place for truckers to park. We want truck stops to have access to grants to update and secure their facilities, with simple basics like lighting, fencing and surveillance cameras.”
In the newspaper story, Hope calls on readers to contact their representatives in Congress to show support for Jason’s Law.
Shape up. Count The Atlantic, one the country’s oldest and most prestigious periodicals, as the latest main-stream media outlet to pick up on the emphasis on truck driver health and one of the leading advocates of driver wellness.
A recent profile of Prime Inc.’s Siphiwe Baleka headlines him as “the fitness guru of the trucking industry.”
“Baleka, once a trucker himself, saw a challenge in the growing obesity epidemic: to take trucking, the unhealthiest profession in the United States, and turn it into a model for workplace wellness,” the story says, and it goes on to detail his evolution from Ivy League, Olympic-hopeful competitive swimmer to long-haul truck driver to wellness wonk.