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Colorado mountain safety effort includes Drivewyze, PrePass, motor carrier group

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A tractor-trailer straddles a runaway truck ramp along I-70 in Colorado. One of the Colorado ramps, the Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp on westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months. (Courtesy: COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Colorado State Patrol, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and in-cab driver alert providers PrePass Safety Alliance and Drivewyze, is helping enhance safety for truckers traveling through the state’s mountainous areas.

The Mountain Rules is a comprehensive, strategic and safety-focused effort to inform and educate in-state and interstate trucking companies and drivers on the challenges of driving in Colorado’s mountains.

It includes information on potential hazards and a consistent reminder on the need to be slow, steady, and safe for the long haul.

“It’s no secret that our mountains create immense challenges for semi-truck drivers,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “The Mountain Rules has a simple mission — get everyone home safely — and this campaign, which supports CDOT’s Whole Safety – Whole System initiative, is a major step towards achieving that goal.”

In addition to an educational effort, The Mountain Rules consists of infrastructure and informational improvements, including:

  • Signing eastbound Interstate 70 and all eastbound chain stations, east of the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels, with information on the brake check locations for truckers.
  • Restriping the wide eastbound exit ramp at the Genesee Park Interchange into a more defined short-term truck parking area where overheated brakes can cool down and equipment checks can take place prior to the final descent into the Golden area.
  • A new subscription-based, in-cab alert system, warning truck drivers about specific areas where brake failures could occur, and the location of brake check and runaway truck ramps.
  • Information gathering on the feasibility of a new ramp and other measures to mitigate runaway trucks, such as geometric and signage improvements to the existing Mount Vernon Canyon Truck Runaway Ramp.

“I want to dispel any misconceptions, myths or rumors about truck ramps for all commercial carriers who travel our mountain corridors,” said CSP Col. Matthew Packard. “Commercial carriers will not be cited by law enforcement for using truck ramps. Should your brakes fail, please save lives and use the ramps.”

The I-70 Mountain Corridor will be the initial pilot for The Mountain Rules. CDOT then will expand the program to other mountainous locations.

“Our mountains and the highways winding through them provide some of the greatest vistas in the world and make Colorado special,” said the Chairman of the CMCA Jim Coleman. “These same roadways, such as I-70, pose a particular challenge for truck drivers and truck brakes, with long and steep downgrades of up to 7% percent. This outreach effort and program will go a long way in educating truck drivers of how to navigate through our mountains, which will enhance safety for all highway users.”

Drivewyze said with its alerts subscribers will have their drivers receive in-cab alerts of upcoming safe locations to pull over for brake check inspections and see prompts to gear low while showing suggested maximum speeds down steep grades. It will also alert drivers of upcoming runaway ramps. Colorado was Drivewyze’s first state in the new alert program. Seven Colorado mountain passes are part of the Drivewyze Safety

According to Brian Mofford, vice president of government experience at Drivewyze, Colorado’s I-70 West, which goes from Vail Pass from the west through Eisenhower Tunnel (elevation 11,158) to Mt. Vernon Canyon to the east, represents 60 miles of difficult driving. “It’s a challenge for truck drivers with steep grades and heavy traffic, especially for those new to mountain driving,” he said. “Drivers have to be in tune with their surroundings, check their brakes and be prepared for constant downshifting and speed control. Brakes can get hot and fail for those who are not ready. It’s why we also have notifications for runaway ramps as a last resort safeguard for a safe stop. Our alerts will help keep preparations top of mind to help keep truck drivers and the motoring public safer.”

PrePass said its alerts are a feature of the MOTION weigh station bypass mobile application. The alerts notify truck drivers of steep grades ahead from a distance of approximately five miles away, and also notify them as they approach any of five runaway truck ramps along the route. Drivers will also receive alerts for seven sites along I-70 where they can perform brake checks and/or during winter, complete truck tire chain-ups or removals.

“These dynamic alerts will improve highway safety by notifying truck drivers well in advance of steep grades and sites where they can check their brakes,” said Terry Maple, regional director for PrePass Safety Alliance. Maple, former Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, said the additional alerts will minimize distractions because they require no interaction on the part of the driver.

I-70 is known as having one of the country’s most difficult passes for truck drivers. An out-of-control runaway truck in April slammed into stopped traffic near Lakewood, killing four people. Other tragedies have been averted thanks to truck drivers using the corridor’s five runaway truck ramps along the route. The Lower Straight Creek runaway truck ramp along westbound I-70 at milepost 211.83 is the most used truck ramp in the United States, being used once a week on average during the summer months.

 

 

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lisa Oscar

    August 21, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    no one teaches anyone how to come off mountains Just how to hold a steering wheel. coming off a mountain needs to be taught…back before jake breaks it was real interesting now its a piece of cake if you are patient and equipment up to par and know what you are doing

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The Nation

Lane Departures: Why would California lawmakers saddle trucking with the ABC test?

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Well, he said he’d do it.

If you look elsewhere on this website, you’ll see a story I did about a week ago about AB5, a bill passed by the California Senate on September 10 into the waiting arms of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had long telegraphed he was looking forward to signing it.

Yesterday, he did it. And come the new year, trucking is going to have to live with it.

AB5 — the full name is the “Employees and Independent Contractors” bill — is ostensibly intended to prevent employers from exploiting workers and skirting expenses by relying on “independent contractors” to make their businesses run instead of hiring full-fledged employees, who come with all kinds of nasty baggage like guaranteed minimum wages, overtime and payroll taxes, mandatory breaks, insurance and other horrific profit reducers.

The bill got off the ground in the wake of a court case last year in which a delivery company called Dynamex was determined to have improperly reclassified its workers as independent contractors in order to save money.  In making the decision, the court applied what is known as the ABC test, which presumes all workers should be classified as employees unless they meet three criteria.

Like the court case, the bill, which will codify the ABC test across the state, seems to have been at least in spirit aimed at companies like Dynamex that are part of that there so-called “gig economy” all the young folks are so hopped up about. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are almost always mentioned as Public Enemies 1A and 1B of supposed independent contractor charlatans.

The problem with AB5, its critics say, is it proposes to perform an appendectomy with a chainsaw, ripping into industries that have long-established business models that extensively use independent contractors to the satisfaction of all involved.

A great big example would be trucking, because it appears the ABC test would prevent carriers from contracting with owner-operators or smaller fleets in California. I’ll let you imagine the consequences if that’s true.

If you’ve read the article, or your planning to read the article, I’d like to apologize in advance because as I’ve been learning about this AB5 business, I have some lingering questions that I could not answer. I have calls out to a couple of experts on the legal and logistical nuances. Unfortunately, experts don’t observe journalistic deadlines.

But then, I figured, this story is going to be around a while, so we can keep building on what we know. I may have answers to some of these questions by the time you read this. Or maybe you will be able to provide some of the answers. I mean, you don’t need to have a title or a degree or be part of a think tank to know a thing or two.

My first question is this: They didn’t pull this ABC test out of thin air. A majority of states already use the test in some manner on matters of job status. California’s application of ABC is based on Massachusetts’ broad, strict use of the test. So, hasn’t trucking had to contend with this standard there and in in other states already? I haven’t heard reports of empty store shelves in Massachusetts. Is there some simple workaround already in existence just waiting for cooler heads to prevail?

Second, from what I gather, ABC has had its critics for as long as it’s existed. Is it just the sheer size of California’s economy that makes this case so important or somehow different?

I’m going to go way out on a limb and say “probably.” Last year, California’s economy outgrew that of Great Britain. If it were an independent country, California would have the fifth-largest economy in the world. And what happens in California rarely stays in California. The state has a major influence on the rest of the nation.

California’s economy is closing in on $3 trillion a year. Real estate, finance, the entertainment industry and that nest of tech behemoths in Silicon Valley are responsible for big chunks of that.

And let’s not forget agriculture. California ranches and farms reaped $50 billion in receipts in 2017. That’s a lot of food, a lot of truckloads.

California also has some of the nation’s largest seaports. The Port of Long Beach alone sees about $200 billion in cargo a year, with 11,000 truckloads leaving the port each day. And most of what doesn’t go by truck from there eventually winds up on a truck somewhere inland.

Add it all up, and trucking is a huge player in the California economic machine. Why would lawmakers want to strip its gears with this law? Some lawmakers are even on record saying they are worried about what this could do to the industry. Then why are they doing it?

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, is not some gung-ho rookie lawmaker. She’s in her third term, and she already has made a national name for herself as a champion of the working class with several pieces of legislation she has supported.

AB5 could fit into that collection quite nicely. But it isn’t a trophy she needs in a hurry. She won her last two reelection campaigns by about a 3-1 margin.

And she’s also been around enough that she surely understands that despite its best intentions, the broad-stroke, one-size-fits-all approach AB5 takes will do more harm than good to many industries, including trucking.

In fact, she’s as much as said so. Gonzalez has already indicated that once the bill becomes law, she’d be open to making amendments and granting exemptions.

So why wait? The bill already grants exemptions to real estate, to doctors and dentists. Even newspaper delivery people got a last-minute, one-year exemption.

The California Trucking Association and the Western States Trucking Association pushed for an exemption. Dozens of truck drivers testified in Sacramento. And you have to think state legislators are at least vaguely aware of what goes on in their own districts.

So, they could grasp the importance of the guy who throws a newspaper in their driveway from a passing car at 4 a.m., but not of the people who deliver, like, everything everywhere all the time?

We all know how long fixing bad legislation can take. Even if they put it on the “fast track,” how much damage will occur before trucking can get an exemption?

I did hear back from one legal expert on the matter. Greg Feary, president and managing partner at Scopelitus, Garvin, Light, Hansen and Feary LLC, said there are a couple of cases in Ninth Circuit Court that could spell relief for the trucking industry. Even so, the legal system can move almost as slowly as the legislative system. He estimates California truckers are going to have to live with AB5 for at least a year.

Questions abound. I’m not looking forward to some of the answers.

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The Nation

Trucking submarine style in Texas

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Texas is getting hit hard with flooding.  This takes it to new levels!


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Flooding in Texas – That cab’s gonna be a bit damp!

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KHOU reporter Melissa Correa happened to be on scene and captured this video.  Another motorist grabbed a hammer and rope and saved the drivers life.

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