On May 5, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood announced that Wisconsin had become the 25th state in the U.S. to ban texting while driving, calling distracted driving "an epidemic" responsible for killing and injuring thousands of people every year. That statistic is a very unfortunate reality for the family of Anita Zaffke, the 56-year-old woman killed on May 2, 2009, when she was rear-ended on her motorcycle by Lora Hunt, who admitted to painting her fingernails while driving prior to hitting Zaffke near Lake Zurich, Illinois. LaHood's announcement of Wisconsin's driver texting ban came just one day before a Lake County jury found Hunt guilty of reckless homicide on May 6.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has denied the exemptions requests made by five airlines in relation to a new federal rule that will limit the amount of time an airline can force passengers to remain onboard a flight stopped on the tarmac. JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines and American Airlines all petitioned the DOT to allow for exemptions to the rule, which goes into effect on April 29. The airlines sought the exemptions for certain airports, including New York's La Guardia and JFK, where runway construction and other issues have caused traffic backups on the tarmac.
Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it was implementing a new rule that, according to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood, is aimed at "cracking down on carriers and drivers who put people on our roads and highways at risk" by violating federal hours-of-service (HOS) regulations.
The company involved in the fatal, March 5 bus crash outside of Phoenix, Arizona had been denied passenger carrier operating authority in April, 2009, but continued to operate anyways, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). Pursuant to an emergency request by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Tierra Santa, Inc., was ordered on March 6 by the United States District Court for the Central District of California to cease all passenger carrier services-even though the company's application to conduct such services had been officially denied by the USDOT on December 14, 2009. According to the FMCSA complaint, Tierra Santa's owner, Cayetano Martinez, operated other entities that had previously been shut down, yet attempted to "reincarnate himself as a new carrier" only to be denied authorization once more in December, 2009. The complaint further states that "Martinez has shown a persistency and determination to continue operating under new entities and businesses," a pattern that is "without authority and without regard for the safety of its passengers" according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
In line with the upcoming, nation-wide implementation of Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) launched Friday the initial phase of its Driver Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP). The PSP, one of the many changes the FMCSA is making to the current regulations governing large motor carriers, will enable carrier companies, including semi-trailer truck carriers, to have electronic access to the driving records for potential new drivers, specifically crash records and driver safety inspections.
In an effort to enhance and update the current safety standards of the trucking industry, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is in the process of finalizing and nationally introducing a initiative two years in the making. Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 (CSA 2010) is a program designed by the FMCSA which introduces an updated enforcement and compliance model aimed at improving the safety standards for the interstate operation of larger motor vehicles with the goal of reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities that occur nationwide.
On December 21, 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation, ("DOT"), announced a new rule that imposes a three hour limit on the amount of time an airline can keep a passenger on board a domestic flight that has been delayed on the tarmac. Exceptions exist within the rule for concerns of safety or security, or if the air traffic control advises the pilot that a return to the gate would disrupt the operations of the airport.