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Nebraska officer earns grand champion award for roadside inspection

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Nebraska officer earns grand champion award for roadside inspection
Courtesy: CVSA Sgt. Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol has earned the 2019 Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s highest honor for the commercial motor vehicle roadside inspector. (Courtesy: CVSA)

PITTSBURGH — Sgt. Benjamin Schropfer of the Nebraska State Patrol has earned the 2019 Jimmy K. Ammons Grand Champion Award, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s highest honor for the commercial motor vehicle roadside inspector.

After a week of in-depth training and intense competition, Schropfer received the award Saturday at the North American Inspectors Championship (NAIC) here at a joint awards ceremony with the American Trucking Associations National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships.

Every year since NAIC started 27 years ago, each jurisdiction from Canada, Mexico and the United States is eligible to send one inspector to represent their jurisdiction, receive valuable training and compete against other top inspectors for the ultimate title of NAIC Grand Champion.

This year, 51 commercial motor vehicle inspectors gathered in Pittsburgh, August 13-17 to compete at NAIC, the only event dedicated to testing, recognizing and awarding commercial motor vehicle inspector excellence.

Each contestant competes in six inspection categories. The competition includes a North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria exam as well as thorough assessments of each inspector’s knowledge and expertise by providing various identical vehicles from which contestants must identify regulatory violations and critical vehicle inspection item out-of-service conditions, all while being timed. Contestants are tested on real-world vehicle and driver inspection scenarios and must appropriately evaluate the situation and properly identify violations within the recreated roadside inspection scenario. Inspectors are tested on the out-of-service criteria, inspection procedures, hazardous materials/dangerous goods requirements, passenger carrier vehicles and more.

In addition to the NAIC Grand Champion Award, other notable awards were earned by this year’s competing inspectors.

The one inspector who scores the most points representing each of the three participating countries in the competition receives their country’s High Points Award.

The following High Points Awards were presented:

  • Sean McAlister High Points Canada Award: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • High Points Mexico Award: Gustavo Ruiz Alvarado, Policía Federal
  • High Points United States Award: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol

First, second and third place awards are given for the following inspection categories:

The North American Standard Hazardous Materials/Dangerous Goods and Cargo Tank/Bulk Packagings Inspection is an inspection of the requirements related to identifying hazardous materials/dangerous goods markings, labeling, placarding, packaging, identification, etc.

  • First Place: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Second Place: Michael Trautwein, local member, Houston Police Department
  • Third Place: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol

The North American Standard Level I Inspection is the most commonly performed inspection. It is a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness.

  • First Place: Delaney Malsbury, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
  • Second Place: Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol
  • Third Place: Andrew James – Arkansas Highway Police

The Team Award is given to the team with the highest combined score. The team with the highest score this year was the Blue Team, led by team leader Joe Manning with Pennsylvania State Police. The Blue Team had the following members: Brittany Linde, British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; Stanton Ishii, Hawaii Department of Transportation; Ryan Dahm, Iowa Department of Transportation; Herbert Bradley, Kansas Highway Patrol; Level Walley, Mississippi Department of Public Safety; Benjamin Schropfer, Nebraska State Patrol; Tommy Torok, South Dakota Highway Patrol; Jose Najera, Texas Department of Public Safety; and Vidal Zamora – U.S. DOT/FMCSA.

This year, NAIC contestants voted to present the John Youngblood Award of Excellence to Joshua Bradley with the Georgia Department of Public Safety. The John Youngblood Award of Excellence is an honor NAIC contestants bestow upon a fellow NAIC inspector who exemplifies high standards and unwavering dedication to the profession. It’s the only award that is awarded to one inspector by their peers. Inspectors vote for the inspector who exemplifies the spirit of cooperation, leadership, a professional image, a dedication to their profession, a positive attitude, organizational ability and congeniality.

“I started my CVSA career 16 years ago at the 2003 North American Inspectors Championship in Columbus, Ohio, so this competition is near and dear to my heart,” said CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson with the Arkansas Highway Police. “I know firsthand what an honor it is to be selected by your agency to compete on behalf of your jurisdiction against the best of the best inspectors from across North America. Each competing inspector – whether they receive a trophy or not – leaves NAIC as a winner.”

In addition to the competitive events, each inspector receives hands-on training on the latest safety information, technology, standards and procedures, while sharing ideas, techniques and experiences with fellow inspectors. Since NAIC is co-located with ATA’s championship, certified inspectors and professional drivers are in an environment where they can interact with, learn from and support each other throughout the week.

NAIC was created to recognize roadside inspectors and enforcement personnel – the backbone of the commercial motor vehicle safety program in North America – and to promote uniformity of inspections through training and education.

Next year’s NAIC is scheduled for August 18-22, 2020, in Indianapolis.

 

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Moving America forward: Sammy Brewster is dedicated to safety

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Sammy Brewster
Sammy Brewster, Georgia (Courtesy: Trucking Moves America Forward)

To celebrate the modern-day achievements of African Americans in the trucking industry, Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) has selected four drivers who exemplify excellence in trucking. They were selected because of their professionalism and dedication to their jobs, commitment to safety and continuous efforts to move America forward every day.

The drivers are being featured on TMAF’s blog and social media pages throughout the month of February as well as on The Trucker.com. The stories highlight the drivers’ accomplishments and safety records and share the personal story of each driver. This is the fourth of four features in the series.

Moving America forward: Sammy Brewster is dedicated to safety

Sammy Brewster, a professional truck driver for ABF Freight for the past 12 years, has been a truck driver for 29 years. He resides in Powder Springs, Georgia.

Brewster, is a second-generation truck driver. During an interview with TMAF, Sammy said, “I got my start at an early age by driving for my father. He also ran a small family logging business.”

When asked what Brewster loves most about trucking, he told TMAF that he loves the free feeling of being out on the open road and the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the country. Most importantly, Brewster said, it has been a great support system to raise his family.

Brewster’s son, who just got his trucking license last year, is continuing in his father and grandfather’s footsteps as a third-generation truck driver.

Prior to joining the trucking industry, Brewster served in the U.S. Army. Brewster said that dedication to safety is one of the lessons instilled in him during his service. He carries that lesson into his job as a truck driver.

Prioritizing and promoting safety are essential for Brewster while on and off the road. Because of his strong safety record, Brewster has received many safe driving awards, including the 11-year safe driving certificate and the 10-year Safety Performance Award from ABF Freight.

Brewster was appointed as a member of ATA’s 2019–2020 America’s Road Team. He also serves as member of ATA’s Share the Road highway safety program, helping to educate motorists about road safety during heavy traffic weekends, such as Memorial Day.

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Backlogs expected as weekly closure of eastbound Tuscarora Tunnel begins Sunday

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Backlogs expected as weekly closure of eastbound tuscarora tunnel begins sunday
All drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike are advised to expect delays while the eastbound Tuscarora Tunnel is closed for improvements and modernization. The tunnel will be closed every Sunday night and reopen at noon Friday each week through late June.

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission advises motorists traveling in both directions on Interstate 76 to be prepared for an ongoing closure of the eastbound tube of the Tuscarora Tunnel starting at 9 p.m. Sun., Feb. 23, and ending at noon Friday, Feb. 28.

The weekly tunnel closure, which will impact traffic in both directions in Franklin County, will continue until June 26; some schedule modifications may occur due to weather conditions or during holiday periods.

Eastbound traffic will be directed into one lane and then cross over to continue through one lane of the westbound tunnel. Motorists in both directions should be alert for a continuous single-lane traffic pattern approaching the tunnel and bidirectional traffic within the tunnel.

Additionally, no overwidth commercial vehicles will be allowed in the tunnel during bidirectional traffic patterns.

Motorists should be prepared for slow moving or stopped traffic approaching the Tuscarora Tunnel in both directions. Backlogs are expected daily in both directions beginning around mid-day and lasting into the evening hours. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission has installed a smart work zone as part of this project which monitors current traffic conditions and displays travel times and slow or stopped traffic messages on Portable Changeable Message signs placed in advance of the tunnel in both directions.

Impacted motorists should visit www.511pa.com/tuscarora to view travel alerts and current travel times for the project and to find suggested detour routes.

Drivers are advised to turn on headlights, slow to the posted work-zone speed limit of 40 mph and keep an adequate distance from the vehicle ahead. Never pass inside the tunnel. Drivers who experience car trouble and cannot safely exit the tunnel should stay in the vehicle, put on the hazard lights, dial *11 from a mobile phone and wait for assistance. Tunnel personnel will monitor closed-circuit cameras and send help for disabled vehicles.

The Tuscarora Tunnel is located on I-76 between mileposts 186 and 187, between the Fort Littleton Interchange (Exit 180) and the Willow Hill Interchange (Exit 189) at the Huntingdon and Franklin county lines.

The tunnel crossovers are necessary as part of a four-year $110 million project to improve and modernize the Tuscarora Tunnel. The major tasks to be completed include the removal of ceiling slabs, a new ventilation system, new membrane waterproofing and the replacement of walkways, concrete barriers and the drainage system in the tunnels. Some enhancements have already been completed in the westbound tunnel, such as additional lighting, in-pavement lights and overhead lane-control signs.

The Tuscarora Tunnel eastbound tube opened in 1940 and the westbound tube opened in 1968. The two tunnels were last renovated in the 1980s. For more information about the Tuscarora Tunnel Rehabilitation Project visit www.PATurnpiketunnels.com.

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Connecticut governor drops proposal for highway tolls for trucks

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Connecticut flag

HARTFORD, Conn.  — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Wednesday, Feb. 19, that he is dropping his plan for highway tolls for trucks, expressing frustration with legislative leaders who have delayed a vote on the issue.

The Democratic-controlled General Assembly had planned to vote Thursday on the tolls, which were under consideration to fund a wide-ranging transportation improvement plan. But Lamont, also a Democrat, said the Senate informed him that it needed more time, once again.

“I’ve got a Legislature that doesn’t want to make a choice,” Lamont said at a news conference. “I think it’s time to take a pause.”

Tolls on trucks had been projected to raise an estimate $200 million annually. Lamont said he plans for now to generate that money instead through state borrowing to help finance his roughly $19 billion 2030 transportation improvement plan.

“I hate to do it this way. It’s bonding in place of other things that are priorities,” he said. “But right now, there’s no other option on the table.”

As Lamont was talking to reporters, the Senate Democrats issued a statement saying the caucus was “still confident” it will have the necessary number of votes to pass a transportation plan with 12 toll gantries on 18-wheeler trucks only. In a joint statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said they had only asked for five more days because the senators needed that time to prepare for an anticipated two-day, 30-hour debate over tolls.

“We are prepared to hold a session next week to vote on a bill to make the necessary transportation improvements for Connecticut’s economic development, residents and businesses,” they said.

Minority Republican leaders were doubtful the issue of tolls, which has hounded Lamont and his administration since the former businessman first took office in January 2019, will be resurrected for a vote during this legislative session, which ends in May. But they didn’t rule out the issue returning next year.

“Nothing’s dead in this building,” said Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven. “Back up again this session? I might be a little bit surprised. Back up again in 2021, I think you could probably bank on it.”

Some House Democrats expressed disappointment about Lamont’s announcement he’s not going to push ahead with tolls.

“This is crazy — let’s vote on the plan,” tweeted Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport. “Continuing to kick the can down the road and borrowing even more money 100% on the backs of CT taxpayers is what got us in this mess to start with.”

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