The day of April 26, 2019 in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colorado was marked by a horrific, multi-vehicle traffic crash that resulted in four deaths, a multitude of personal injuries to occupants of the 28 different vehicles directly or indirectly involved, the destruction of a few hundred feet of three lanes of travel on Interstate 70 and significant collision to a multitude of the many vehicles involved. Some of those vehicles, as well as the asphalt pavement surface in those three interstate lanes, were destroyed by a fire that was ignited during the collision event and gradually spread across a wide expanse of the incident area. The crash events occurred within the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 at the Denver West Blvd. interchange (Mile Marker 263).
Every local news media dispatched reporters and helicopters to thoroughly cover the multitude of activities surrounding the collision events and the aftermath of the rescue, the law enforcement investigation, the fire mitigation, as well as the recovery and clean-up tasks. Numerous eye-witnesses accounts to the collisions and to some of the heroic rescue efforts were documented and broadcast. Amateur videos related to the pre-crash movements of the out-of-control truck tractor and semi-trailer soon surfaced and were broadcast repeatedly within news coverage and within social media. It wasn’t long before the national media outlets picked up on the story, further distributing the news of the human and property devastation that had occurred. Truck crashes like this one are big news.
In late 2016, just a few weeks before the Obama Administration handed the White House keys to the Trump Administration, the FMCSA published far-reaching “entry level driver training” (ELDT) rules designed to raise the training bar (a) for individuals applying for their CDL for the first time, (b) for those upgrading an existing Class B CDL to a Class A, and, (c) for those applying for certain CDL endorsements for the first time. Although published in late 2016, FMCSA set a compliance date of February 2020 for all affected individuals and training schools/companies.
Early this year there were whispers FMCSA might delay the early 2020 compliance date. However, in public comments to an industry group in early May 2019, an FMCSA official silenced some of those whispers by communicating the Agency’s implementation plan. The official stated that FMCSA sees the following implementation steps:
- FMCSA will implement a new "training provider registry" (TPR) sometime later in 2019, and all driver training schools will need to register and be listed on the TPR before the February 2020 compliance date;
- All registered training providers/schools will have to adopt and use the new training curriculum standards by February 2020; and,
- All new drivers will need to complete training with a registered training provider before taking their CDL skills test (on and after February 6, 2020).
Summer is here and with so much sunshine, driving has suddenly become enjoyable. The grey skies and wintery conditions are gone. Everyone is rolling down their windows, cranking up the radio and driving faster. Sadly, they’re also paying less attention to their primary responsibility: defensive driving.
This is a great time to discuss distracted driving. You’ve heard it a thousand times: distracted driving causes accidents. When we think of distracted driving, we usually think of people texting or messing around with their cell phones. True, this is a common and dangerous distraction. In fact, it’s more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol! But there are other distractions which are equally dangerous.
Distracted driving behaviors often become habituated. We all adhere to patterns of behavior. Our patterns of behavior, or routines, provide us with comfort because they have worked for us in the past. If a particular behavior works well, we repeat it until it becomes a habit. But sometimes, we develop unsafe behavior patterns. We take a risk, but nothing bad happens so we do it again and again. Scientific studies have proven that if we repeat an unsafe behavior enough times, it will always result in an accident.
Trying to multitask while driving is a perfect example of an unsafe behavior that is often repeated. It can range from fiddling with the radio, to eating a snack, or drifting into a daydream while driving. These behaviors can be just as dangerous as texting while driving. They take you eyes and mind off the road. There is no such thing as safe multitasking behind the wheel. Driving is not a passive activity. It requires attention and vigilance.