October 16, 2017: Operation Safe Driver Week

This week marks the beginning of the 2017 Operation Safe Driver Week (October 15-21). Drivers across the country should be prepared for increased law enforcement presence and scrutiny.
Law enforcement officers will be focused on reducing unsafe behaviors such as texting and driving, not using seatbelts, speeding, following too closely, and improper lane changes.
The goal of Operation Safe Driver Week is to reduce the number of traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths involving commercial and passenger vehicles as a direct result of unsafe driving behaviors.

Operation Safe Driver Week

October 06, 2017: Petition for Waiver of Compliance

Central Montana Rail, Inc. is requesting an extension of an existing waiver of compliance that permits railroad employees to remain on duty up to 16 hours in a 24 hour period. CMR maintains it has seen no negative impacts to safety and only uses the longer on duty periods for special circumstances like inclement weather, traffic peaks, or employee illness.
Interested parties may submit comments on the waiver request until November 20, 2017.

Docket Number FRA–2001–10948

October 6, 2017: NCTD Requests Approval and System Certification for PTC Safety Plan

The North County Transit District submitted its Positive Train Control Safety Plan to the Federal Railroad Administration and is asking that a PTC System Certification for the Interoperable Electronic Train Management System be issued. Interested parties may submit comments on the request until November 6, 2017.

Docket Number FRA–2010–0049

October 5, 2017: Guide to Previous and Current Penalty Amounts for FMCSA Violations

In April the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced the fines for violations would be increased due to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The following document lists 68 violations along with both the former and current penalty value for each violation.

2017 Inflation Adjusted Fines

October 1, 2017: Experts Criticize CSX and Union Tank Car Co. for Derailment in Maryville in 2015

On November 1st a federal judge will issue his ruling on whether or not he will allow two expert witnesses, James Whelan, a mechanical engineer, and Al Blackwell, a former railroad track inspector and train crash inspector, to testify at the trial against CSX Transportation and Union Tank Car Co. that is expected to begin on November 13, 2017. The lawsuit stems from a train derailment and chemical fire in Maryville on July 2, 2015.
The derailment, which both parties agree was caused by an overheated roller bearing, lead to one of the tank cars containing the toxic chemical acrylonitrile to become punctured. The leak caused a fire that burned for 16 hours. While there were no fatalities there were numerous people, including the plaintiffs, hospitalized for inhalation-related injuries.
During the pretrial hearing, Mr. Whelan testified that the roller bearing in question had been in use for 21 years at the time of the derailment. However, the grease used to lubricate the bearing during manufacturing has a useful life expectancy of 10 years. Mr. Whelan said “You risk death, injury, or something like this….The grease went 11 years beyond its useful life…..A lubricant has a defined life, it doesn’t matter who made it. It is defective after 10 years.”
He went on to criticise CSX because he feels the workers should have seen the excess grease leaking out of the bearing when the train was still in Ohio. The leak should have prompted them to change the bearing.
Mr. Blackwell feels CSX did not install hot bearing detectors close enough on the tracks to be effective. He feels to be effective they should be placed between 10-15 miles apart. However, CSX policy states they should be placed every 20-25 miles. The detectors on this stretch of track are 26.5 miles apart. Mr. Blackwell feels there were “plenty of spaces” CSX could have placed these detectors along that stretch of track.  Additionally, Mr. Blackwell feels CSX crew members should have seen the sparks that would be coming from the overheated bearing. “It is my opinion there were several sight lines available…They could have seen the sparking that was going on.”

Mechanical engineer, former train worker criticize CSX, tank car owner over Maryville train derailment