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Does the D.O.T. watch T.V.?

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Taking a little time off the road this week to get my taxes done. Such a treat. The good news is, it didn't take as long as I thought it would, so I thought I'd watch a little T.V. for a change. Three hundred channels, and nothing on…wait, here's a show I haven't heard of before — Big Rig Bounty Hunters.

When they start making reality shows about trucks, it would appear to me that they're getting pretty desperate for ideas. Trucking is mostly like the saying "hours of boredom, and seconds of terror". Not a lot of opportunity for much in the way of engaging footage.

This show was a bit different though — highlighting the truck recovery industry. O.K., at least that's a bit different. Dealing with things like stolen and hijacked trucks might be a good thing, by publicizing what is a serious problem faced by every trucking company in the country. My question is, where did they find all of these amateurs?

Let's start with a basic item — seat belts. During the episode I watched, I only saw one driver use them. Last I heard, wearing them was mandatory. As in not optional. As in will get any truck driver a citation.

Next, using a handheld cell phone while driving a truck. Can't do it. Against the regulations. For the company that I work for, that would be an immediate trip to the unemployment line.

Also, backing up on a public street. Really bad idea. Another instant trip to the ranks of the unemployed if they worked where I do.

In addition, I never saw a single one of them perform even the most cursory pre-trip inspection. Regs say that has to happen. It's a requirement, not a suggestion. I suppose it's possible that the pre-trip was on footage that ended up on the cutting room floor.

Neither did I see any logbooks or logbook entries being made. For local drivers that's ok — if you're within 100 air miles (among other requirements – located here: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/truck/driver/hos/fmcsa-guide-to-hos.PDF). One team was making a trip several states away. Didn't see any logs, although I suppose again that footage of that also could have ended up on the cutting room floor. I can understand that — watching a truck driver do a logbook wouldn't exactly be the most riveting footage ever shot.

Here's a suggestion for all of the drivers featured on that show: if you're going to violate State and Federal regulations, doing it on camera for a show that's being broadcast is probably a Bad Idea. Here's an even better idea: obey the regs. Your televised actions reflect on the entire industry. Truck drivers don't have much of a reputation as it is — don't make it worse.

The one bright spot on the show was A to Z Distribution of Phoenix, AZ. They get a Truckie-D Gold Star Safety Award for sending a recovery driver to complete a delivery for a driver who had run out of hours. Good Job! So nice to see a company that does things the way they're supposed to.

Like any "reality" show, I guess this one should be taken with a grain of salt — or maybe even a whole salt shaker.

As always, comments and questions are welcome.

td

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