Category Archives: federal regulations

Stop the Regulatory Insanity!

If you had the slightest doubt that President Obama was onto something when he suggested improvements in federal regulations, get a load of this …

Federal regulations limit truck weight on interstate highways to 80,000 pounds. That sounds reasonable enough, except that Quebec, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are permanently exempt. So when perfectly legal 100,000 pound trucks come rolling over the border into Vermont or Maine, they must hustle right off the interstate and poke along the narrow back roads over mountains and through little country towns. Brilliant, eh?

Theoretically, regulations like this are supposed to be about safety. So what is it that miraculously makes a 100,000 pound truck that’s unsafe in Maine or Vermont suddenly safe again the minute it crosses the border into Quebec or New Hampshire? Or makes that same 100,000 pound load safer on secondary roads and in school zones than it is on the interstate? Good questions!

Senators Leahy and Collins noticed this peculiar state of affairs, and about a year ago persuaded the Obama administration and the Congress to allow Vermont and Maine to operate under the same rules as their neighbors for a one-year pilot program, which expired in December. As you might imagine, the study demonstrated conclusively that there were plenty of benefits to eliminating this bizarre regulatory inconsistency. So an extension was included in December’s budget bill, but that was blocked by Republican senators. Mother would like to send them to their rooms until they learn how to stop behaving like brats and start using some basic common sense, but she’s afraid that would take too long.

Because this ridiculous inconsistency is unsafe, expensive and inconvenient for residents and truckers, and it needs to be fixed right now! So she’s sorry she called them brats and asks them kindly to do the right thing and stop picking on the poor folks in Vermont and Maine. Senators Collins and Leahy have announced that they are introducing a standalone bill to make the pilot program permanent and create some blessed consistency in the rules of the road for all of us here in New England.

Check out this announcement for the complete scoop, courtesy of Senator Collins:

 

Or if you’d rather read than watch, you can find Senator Collins’ report here: Moving Maine’s heaviest trucks off secondary roads, onto federal highways

and Senator Leahy’s here: Leahy announces effort to move heavy truck traffic from state roads to interstates

Now, by all means if there’s good reason to believe that the higher weights are actually unsafe everywhere, then Mother will be glad to support reducing the limits uniformly instead of the other way around, but she suspects that if that were the case, the pilot program evaluation would have made that clear, and apparently it did no such thing, in fact quite the opposite. So let’s support our voices of reason on this one, shall we?

Thank you, senators! And good luck!!!

 

Truck drivers on drugs: absolutely NOT salubrious

Apparently, crack abusers have been picked on for quite some time when it comes to sentencing laws, but that’s all behind them now thanks to the recently passed federal Fair Sentencing Act. Of course, Mother understands and appreciates the fair’s fair concept perfectly, so would be the last to complain about more fairness in penalties for crack vs. regular cocaine.

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to complain. Oh no! Because she has recently heard that the one and only crack addict it’s been her misfortune to be acquainted with (briefly, thank goodness) is not only out of jail already, he’s back on the road with you and me driving a truck, and not some puny little pickup either, but a big truck, one that requires a Commercial Driver’s License and a theoretical zero tolerance policy for drugs. And this is after two previous accidents that involved wiping out a truck and a car on two separate occasions, evading the drug test after one and testing positive for cocaine after the other. Oh, and earning generous insurance settlements in the process.

So what she wants to complain about today is this: never mind putting them in jail, could we just get them off the road please?

OK, so all of this is strictly hearsay (again, thank goodness), and pretty hard to believe I might add, so I have to admit that considerably more scientific research ought to be done before I scare the pants off my dear blog readers. And since the last thing in the world I want to do is get close enough to this particular crackhead to confirm or refute this particular rumor, I believe I will cheat by googling instead. You don’t mind, do you?

Google results are in and sure enough, major news organizations have done the serious investigative work for me. (Thanks, guys!) Here’s a 2007 report from NBC News on GAO findings that it’s easy for truckers to cheat on drug tests:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Oh, great! But that was three years ago, so the industry has probably cleaned up its act in the meantime, now that it knows what’s going on, right? No, wrong! Here’s a more recent account (November, 2009), from Fox News Chicago:

 Lord knows I hate to be critical, but isn’t there something seriously wrong with a state regulatory system that refuses to renew a cosmetology license for someone with a past DUI record, but has no problem renewing a CDL for a crack abuser? That’s easy. Yes. Not that we don’t appreciate your worrying about our hair, but if you don’t mind, we’d rather be the victim of an occasional bad haircut than be squashed like a bug by an 18-wheeler. So please, please, regulators, work on those priorities, would you? And hurry!