May 2, 2007 11:00 AM, EDT

Safety & Security Briefs — April 26 - May 2

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NTSB Pushes for ‘Black-Box’ Recorders
Stopping-Distance Rule to Be Published This Year
Washington Gov. Rejects Real ID Card
Penske Trains 15,000 Under Highway Watch
N.J. Gov. Corzine Pays Seat-Belt Fine

NTSB Pushes for ‘Black-Box’ Recorders

Two days after a gasoline tanker crash destroyed part of a California highway, federal lawmakers and a safety official called for stricter commercial truck regulation, including a requirement for black box”-like event recorders on trucks, Bloomberg reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which has called for trucking data recorders since 1977, wants the recorders on all commercial trucks, Bloomberg said.

NTSB and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association officials testified on truck safety Tuesday before the Senate surface transportation subcommittee today at a hearing to consider requiring the devices.

NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said the agency the wants the Department of Transportation to strengthen a proposal that would require only trucking companies with the worst safety records to install onboard recorders to track speed, hours driven by drivers and other factors, Bloomberg reported. Transport Topics

Stopping-Distance Rule to Be Published This Year

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials said a rule limiting truck stopping distances would be published later this year.

FMCSA Administrator John Hill told a Senate subcommittee April 19 that FMCSA “was working closely with NHTSA” on a number of safety and technology issues, including the stopping-distance rule.

“One of the things we’re moving forward on in technology enhancement is improving the braking distance of trucks [by up to] 30% great braking capacity,” he said. “At least that’s what we’re coming out with in terms of a proposed rule with NHTSA.”

Under the present regulations, air-braked tractor trailers must be able to stop from 60 mph in 355 feet. The proposed rules would trim that to between 249 feet and 284 feet. Sean McNally

Washington Gov. Rejects Real ID Card

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire (D), who is developing a high-tech state driver license that can serve as a border-crossing document, has signed legislation rejecting Real ID, a federal identification requirement that would create what would in effect be a national ID card, the Associated Press reported.

The Washington state legislation is part of growing state reservations against an expensive federal mandate, AP said.

The new law says Washington will not implement the new Real ID system unless the federal government foots the bill, takes steps to ensure that privacy and data security concerns are addressed and the system does not place unreasonable costs or recordkeeping burdens on the average citizen.

Congress adopted the system in 2005, because of homeland security concerns. It requires states to develop a new driver’s license and personal identification card that allows information to be stored and checked by national databases, AP reported. Transport Topics

Penske Trains 15,000 Under Highway Watch

Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics said they have trained more than 15,000 customer drivers in the Highway Watch program since 2005.

“We’re doing our part as a responsible community member to ensure that America’s highways remain safe,” said Barry Kemper, vice president of insurance risk management for Penske Truck Leasing, ranked No. 7 on the Transport Topics 100 listing of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Highway Watch was created by the American Trucking Association in 1998 as a safety awareness program for truck drivers. ATA added an anti-terrorism training component to the program in spring of 2002 and entered into a cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Homeland Security in 2004.

The program is now a safety and security program designed to aid in the prevention of terrorists from using large vehicles or hazardous cargo as weapons. Transport Topics

N.J. Gov. Corzine Pays Seat-Belt Fine

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine voluntarily paid a $46 fine for violating state law by not wearing a seat belt during the trip last month in which he was seriously injured in a wreck, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Corzine suffered multiple injuries in the April 12 accident in which he was riding unbuckled in the front passenger seat when his SUV, driven by a state trooper at 91 mph, was clipped by a truck and slammed into a guard rail near Atlantic City, AP said.

The governor, who is rehabbing, asked state police to fine him, AP reported. He expressed regret Monday for not wearing his seat belt and setting a bad example. New Jersey law requires all front-seat passengers to buckle up. Transport Topics