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S.D. House panel backs bill to expand texting while driving ban

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Right now, South Dakota drivers can't text or email when operating a vehicle, but they must be pulled over for a different violation for it to be enforced. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

PIERRE, S.D. — A House panel on Tuesday endorsed a bill that would expand South Dakota’s texting while driving ban to mostly prohibit mobile device use by people behind the wheel.

The House Transportation Committee voted 12-1 to advance the prohibition to the chamber’s floor. Republican Rep. Doug Barthel, the sponsor, told committee members that distracted driving is not safe.

“We can all agree that distracted driving is not a good thing. It’s just a question of whether or not we make it enforceable and against the law,” Barthel, a former Sioux Falls police chief, said after the meeting. “I think it’s something that is long overdue.”

Right now, drivers can’t text or email when operating a vehicle, but they must be pulled over for a different violation for it to be enforced. The new bill would increase the penalty for device use while driving and make it a primary offense, which means motorists buried in their phones could be stopped for it.

Texting, browsing Facebook and sending an email while on the road would be a misdemeanor. But using a navigation app, making a telephone call or operating in hands-free mode and using a device during an emergency would still be allowed.

There was no opposition testimony during the committee hearing.

Jacob Wilts, a South Dakota State University student who does track and cross country, asked members to support the bill, saying that a former high school teammate got killed by a distracted driver while out for a run.

“As somebody who runs around the streets and the sidewalks a lot, I’ll tell you that distracted driving is very scary,” Wilts said.

 

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U.S. Xpress launches professional driver development program

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U.S. Xpress' driver development program allows drivers to complete training assignments and refresher courses on their own time, and at their own pace, with the opportunity to check-in and practice skills as they feel necessary. (Courtesy: U.S. Xpress)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — U.S. Xpress, the nation’s fifth largest asset-based truckload carrier by revenue, Wednesday officially debuted its new driver development program and the opening of its redesigned development center in Tunnel Hill, Georgia.

Created by truck driving professionals, the completely transformed program utilizes best-in-class learning and development techniques, using a technology-driven approach and a modern simulator for teachings, replacing lecture-style classes, according to CEO Eric Fuller.

The largest truckload carrier to begin implementing a competency-aligned simulator program, U.S. Xpress’ goal is to provide its drivers with the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for a lifetime of, and millions of miles of, successful driving, he said.

“U.S. Xpress’ professional driver development program showcases the Company’s continued commitment to a better quality of life for drivers, and establishes us as an industry leader as we continue to transform how we manage our operations, technology, and safety procedures,” Fuller said. “Between our ‘Full Ride’ scholarship program, first day medical benefits, and advanced truck technology, we are giving our greatest assets, our drivers, the tools to further grow and develop professionally.”

The newly-launched program provides continuous learning opportunities for both new and experienced drivers.

Created with input from truck driving professionals, the multi-platform program features in-person development sessions; a hands-on commercial motor vehicle learning lab, where drivers inspect and identify faulty equipment; a competency-aligned simulator program; a driving range where drivers can practice straight line, alley dock, serpentine, coupling and uncoupling maneuvers; over 150 e-learning videos; as well as ELD practice and device training.

“We believe our professional driver development program will ensure long term success for our drivers,” said Amanda Thompson, senior vice president of human resources. “The new program positions U.S. Xpress as an industry innovator and empowers drivers’ continued learning and development on and off the road.”

The company’s new development program allows drivers to complete training assignments and refresher courses on their own time, and at their own pace, with the opportunity to check-in and practice skills as they feel necessary, Thompson said.

For more information about professional driver development visit .

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Averitt Express associates provide more than 4,100 hours of community service

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Averitt associates gather to celebrate another successful community outreach effort. The 40 for 40 Community Challenge began in 2011 as a way to commemorate Averitt’s 40th anniversary. (Courtesy: AVERITT EXPRESS)

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Averitt Express associates recently combined to provide more than 4,100 hours of community service as part of the carrier’s annual 40 for 40 Community Challenge.

From October 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018, associates served 4,166 hours, with 87 facilities across Averitt’s system giving to various efforts including clothing, food and toy drives, and blood donations.

The total hours were a 40 for 40 Community Challenge record.

“The 40 for 40 Community Challenge is an important tradition for our team, and the amount of service we gave as a team shows the quality of associates we have,” said Gary Sasser, Averitt’s chairman and chief executive officer. “I’m proud of the commitment our associates have to serving in our communities, and I’m even more excited about the potential we have to make a difference throughout our network in the future.”

The event began in 2011 as a way to commemorate Averitt’s 40th anniversary. Since that time, each facility across its network is encouraged to donate 40 hours of service to various charitable causes between October and December.

For more information about Averitt’s 40 for 40 Community Challenge, visit .

 

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Indiana police expect 400-500 semis to take part in ‘slow roll’ Thursday

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Estimates are that traveling at 45 mph it would take the trucks over two hours to complete the planned route. (The Trucker file photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana State Police say they expect from 400 to 500 semitrucks on Interstate 465 during Thursday’s “slow-roll” protest in Indianapolis.

Multiple media outlets in the Indianapolis area have reported on the scheduled protest, which organizers say is designed to bring attention to government regulations that truck drivers say call “unfair.”

Specifically, protesters are targeting the electronic logging device mandate.

Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Matt Ames told television station WTWO/WISH that extra troopers will patrol I-465 during the time of the protest, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.

He said police expect the protest will be peaceful, but troopers will monitor the situation.

“Once they hit 465 and pull out, that’s where they’re going to do their slow roll. You know, 45 to 50 mph is what they’re going to be doing,” said Amber Furry, an Indiana truck protest organizer.

Furry said drivers will circle I-465 twice.

Traveling at 45 mph, it would take about 2 hours and 20 minutes to circle all of I-465 twice.

Similar protests earlier this month drew 10 to 15 trucks in Dallas and more than a dozen trucks along I-57 in Illinois, according to news reports.

Truck driver Donald Day said the tracking devices have forced drivers to have shorter amounts of time to deliver products to their destination.

The devices, protesters say, are burdensome, expensive and vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Ames said the protest organizers had reached out to the Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division about the event.

“They have told us they will obey traffic laws, they will not occupy the left lane and they will try to leave enough gaps between the trucks to allow traffic to safely merge on and off the interstate,” Ames said.

 

 

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