Saturday, September 01, 2007

Is Your Auto Insurance Paid Up?

Recently the Milpitas Post ran an article concerning a new program that is to begin in California. The article states:

"To improve public safety on the road, the California Highway Patrol, in cooperation with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the California Office of Traffic Safety, has formed a program called Public Awareness of Commercial Trucks. The objective of this statewide campaign is to increase public awareness of commercial vehicles through education and traffic enforcement. The campaign will educate drivers of passenger vehicles on driver safety and rules of the road, and provide specific tips on sharing the road with commercial vehicles. The message of the campaign will be disseminated through educational seminars and literature. In addition to the educational efforts, the CHP will focus enforcement on the primary contributors of collisions between cars and commercial trucks."

While it is commendable that motor vehicle operators become more aware concerning the safe driving habits around big rigs, the timing of this program has me questioning the reasons for instituting it right now.

Could it be possible that they want to prepare the public for what they are going to encounter when they return to work after the Labor Day Weekend?

We have been driving on our roads and highways for many years with these big rigs and we have never had a program to educate us on sharing the roads with commercial vehicles.

Under the terms of NAFTA, the roads and highways of Canada, Mexico and the United States must be made open for commercial vehicles from all three countries so that they can travel freely and deliver freight to their destinations.

The president had proposed a test program to allow one hundred trucking companies full time access to our highways and roads to deliver their goods anywhere in the United States.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request made by the Teamsters union, the Sierra Club and the nonprofit Public Citizen to halt the program. That gives the go ahead for untold numbers of Mexican trucks and Mexican drivers to begin traveling our roadways.

Of course, according to the president, these trucks, and drivers will be required to meet the same safety standards as our own truckers do.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in Part 391: Qualifications of Drivers and Longer Combination Vehicle (LCV) Driver Instructors, we find the following,

391.11 General qualifications of drivers.
(b) Except as provided in Subpart G of this part, a person is qualified to drive a motor vehicle if he/she —
(b)(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;
Qualifications of Drivers

In addition, these drivers are to undergo a thorough physical examination to determine if they are healthy enough to drive on our roads without presenting a threat to other vehicle operators.

The medial report that examining doctors are required to fill out can be found at;

Medical Report

Of course, these guidelines will be enforced by Mexican officials, and we all know how efficient and full of integrity the Mexican government is, don't we?

What does this mean to you as a driver? This plan is going to flood our highways and streets with drivers who have little to no understanding of the rules of our roads. Our lives will be endangered as rolling torpedoes, driven by foreign drivers, begin filling our already overcrowded highways.

Think about his for a moment. A Peterbilt Model 387 tractor weighs in at 23,000 pounds. Peterbilt Specs. A standard 20-foot long flatbed cargo trailer, empty weight, adds another 8123 pounds. That platform is capable of holding 20 tons of cargo. Trailer Specs. Therefore, we have 34 tons of steel rolling down our highways at 55 miles per hour, driven by people who can barely speak English, and who may or may not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs because we are not sure they received a proper and thorough physical exam.

The rules governing the maximum size and weight of vehicles differ among the States in the US. However, since most of the long hauling is done on the interstate system, most of the trucks and trailers made in the US are built to the specifications of the Department of Transportation, which governs the use of the interstate system. I wonder, do our Mexican friends follow the same guidelines as well?

Worried yet? You should be. If not, you might want to go to the following webpage. Big Rig Accident Photos You can get an idea what happens when 34 tons of steel, in the form of a rolling torpedo, has an accident. You do not want to be anywhere near it when it happens, that is all I have to say about that.

Finally, we already have a problem stopping the illegal flow of drugs and human cargo into our country from south of the border. Allowing these trucks access to our roads will only make the control of these problems much more difficult, if not impossible.

This program will be under way as you get into your car or truck and return to work after this Labor Day Weekend. Therefore, when you get on the road you may want to pay very close attention to the big rigs you encounter. Your own life may depend upon it.

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