Unless you live your life inside a bubble, you could find yourself at the mercy of Iowa's CMV drug busters
Iowa state police, working with the National Guard, are using ion scanners to test for trace evidence of drugs inside truck cabs. Positive tests on truckers' log book pages, seats, even floors have Iowa crowing that 10-20 percent of truckers has had contact with drugs.
Enforcement officers say that a microscopic speck on your logbook means that at one time, there have been drugs inside your truck. The detection instrument looks like a Dustbuster and can ascertain amounts as microscopic as a single nanogram (one billionth of a gram). It is self-calibrated, purges itself of the previous test and identifies more than 100 different substances. If you are pulled over for failure to use a turn signal, any "suspicious" behavior on your part may trigger a call for the National Guard van and the ion scanner.
While a single nanogram detected in your cab is not enough to get you arrested, it is enough to give officers legal cause for an even closer look. According to Lt. Tom Gabriel of the state police, a more thorough search is then conducted, hoping to find larger amounts.
One Colorado trucker told Land Line that following his first experience with the ion scanner, he left Iowa with an inspection sheet and the words "tested positive" written on the bottom. A nanogram of the drug known as Ecstasy had been detected on his floor. He denied even knowing for certain what Ecstasy was and pointed out he could have picked up that much on his shoe walking across the parking lot. As to the notation on the inspection, Lt. Gabriel says it's for the record. He also said the driver's motor carrier would be alerted to it.
While using the ion scanner on truckers is new, looking for traces of drugs on personal belongings or money is not. Cash containing measurable traces of cocaine is now so widespread that U.S. courts are increasingly rejecting cocaine-tainted paper money as proof that the owner was involved in drug activity. Reportedly, Janet Reno even had some tainted cash.
Fuel prices reach new heights
The national average cost of diesel fuel reached a 17-month high early in July at roughly $1.10 per gallon. This is more than four cents higher than the previous month, and approximately 15 cents higher than during the third week of February (when prices reached record lows).
Diesel fuel prices increased through the month of June, and into the first week of July. The result is a 6.6-cent increase in price from 1998. The result, according to the American Trucking Associations, is a $15.5 million cost to the trucking industry.
Trucking company seeking foreign drivers
According to published reports, Hogan Transport of St. Louis, MO, intends to hire 75 to 100 truckers from Barbados, a Caribbean Island nation. Hogan has apparently complied with a Department of Labor requirement by providing proof that they were unable to fill their job vacancies locally, thus enabling them to recruit foreign workers to fill the slots. Land Line confirmed the drivers will be trained at a Florida truck driving school, though school officials declined further comment. Hogan Transport officials declined Land Line's request for an interview.
High court shoots down ADA petitioners
In a decision handed down June 22, the Supreme Court ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to individuals with conditions that can be corrected. The decision was in response to three cases where individuals claimed protection under the act when they were fired or were refused employment for various physical conditions.
A former mechanic for United Parcel Service filed suit after he was fired for having high blood pressure. A veteran driver for the Albertson's supermarket chain filed suit after he was fired for failing a DOT vision test because he was almost blind in one eye. (Albertson's reportedly refused to reinstate the driver even after he obtained a DOT vision waiver.) Two pilots filed suit after they were denied employment by United Airlines because they are extremely nearsighted.
Teamed up to help kids
Western Star Trucks, McDonald's restaurants, and a local hockey team in Kelowna, BC, have made a $3,425 contribution to the children's ward of Kelowna General Hospital. For every goal scored during the 1998-1999 regular season, $25 was donated to the children's ward.
Negotiating the new HOS regs - what process will it be?
In early June, an official report by two hired "convenors" rejected the idea of negotiating with interested parties on new hours-of-service regulations. It appeared that the two convenors felt a traditional "notice and comment" rulemaking should be a last resort and recommended, instead, a "scientific dialog." The convenors, hired by FHWA to study the situation, suggested the feds establish an advisory committee of industry representatives to collaborate on the process.
Waiting time costs big bucks according to survey
A survey of dry van drivers by Martin Labbe and Associates for the Truckload Carriers Association found that the typical dry van driver spends an average of 33.5 hours per week loading, unloading, or waiting to do one or the other. The study concluded this waiting time results in more than $1.5 billion in lost productivity.
Traffic deaths blamed on fuel economy mandates
Of the 21,000 car occupant deaths that occurred last year, between 2,600 and 4,500 were attributable to the federal government's new car fuel economy standards. According to a newly-released study by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), the increase in annual traffic deaths is due to the downsizing of cars over the past 20 years.
Oh, here's good news...
More Americans than ever own RVs and now account for nearly 10 percent of all vehicle-owning households. According to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, there are 9.3 million RVs on the road.
"As the baby boomers age, the roads are going to be flooded with these things," says Gerald Celente, head of the Trends Research Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. "It's no longer looked upon as unhip to hog the road."
Does your truck or trailer have a recurring problem or one that seems to be unfixable? Does the problem affect your safety or the safety of the motoring public? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an online method to report problems to their Office of Defects Investigations (these are the folks that initiate recalls). Log onto www.nhtsa.dot.gov/ivoq and complete the Vehicle Owner's Questionnaire. You will need to have the vehicle's VIN and owner's manual handy.