In October, the Oregon State Police (OSP) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) held a 48-hour continuous safety inspection of commercial drivers and vehicles entering Oregon at the Ashland and Klamath Falls ports. The operation was the first of its type in the Pacific Northwest involving the combined forces of multiple agencies and drug recognition experts. The validity of the resulting statistics is already being questioned.
Oregon Trucking Association (OTA) representative Erika Ohm told Land Line that the inspections were only conducted on drivers or trucks that police targeted as "looking suspicious."
"Since only the 373 worst trucks were stopped, the numbers aren't a true picture of the condition of most drivers and their trucks," Ohm said. The estimated truck traffic at the Klamath Falls POE is 550 trucks daily and approximately 1,500 daily at the Ashland POE.
According to the OSP, one out of 10 urine samples received during "Operation Trucker Check" tested positive for drugs or alcohol. There were 367 voluntary urine samples tested during the 48-hour continuous campaign. Thirty four drivers tested positive for drugs. Twenty-six drivers refused to provide a urine sample. Analysis indicated the drugs detected included Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants (Cocaine and Amphetamines) - 12; Marijuana - 11; Opiates - 8; CNS Depressants - 2; and ETOH (alcohol) -1.
"It was a very successful operation mostly because of the cooperation from truckers," said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the OSP. "We sincerely believe that truckers want to improve their image." Hastings went on to say that the check removed six drivers who were visually impaired and under the influence. Ninety-eight of the 373 trucks inspected were placed out of service and five drivers pulled off the road due to fatigue. Troopers issued 45 citations and 80 warnings. Organizers of the check said that it will probably be repeated and surrounding states are considering the possibility of conducting similar inspections.
Scuffle over bug shield ends in trucker's arrest
OOIDA member Jimmy Brogdon of Chattanooga, TN, says he never meant for the Confederate flag on his bug shield to be offensive.
The flag so enraged another semi driver, however, that it almost proved to be deadly.
According to police reports, Jimmy was run off the road along Interstate 65 near Indianapolis Dec. 2 by Jeffrey G. Robinson (an angry trucker who police say was offended by the bug shield). Jimmy says the other driver forced him off the road and onto the shoulder, and claims he was brandishing a gun.
"He would have killed me," Jimmy says. "He tried to force me onto the median. If I'd have got stuck, he would have killed me."
After several grueling minutes of the truck-to-truck duel, state police caught up to and arrested Robinson on charges of misdemeanor intimidation and criminal recklessness with a vehicle. No weapon was found.
After the incident, other drivers told Jimmy an argument had broken out over Channel 19 between Robinson and other drivers. Jimmy says he had his citizens band radio on Channel 2 and was unaware of the CB fracas.
Following the incident, Jimmy says he took some time off work to see a doctor for problems with his blood pressure.
"I'm just a nervous wreck," he says.
Jimmy has also removed the Confederate flag and replaced it with an American flag.
"I didn't put (the flag) on my truck to offend anybody," he says.
Jeffrey Robinson could not be located for comment.