Thursday, March 21, 2013

I-75 South in Pasco closed after trucks crash

Update: Due to the damage to the road, the southbound lanes are expected to remain closed until at least 6 p.m., troopers said. Asphalt must be replaced.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 75 in Pasco County is shut down this morning after a fiery crash involving a semitrailer and dump truck near State Road 56.

Neither driver was injured, troopers said.

Southbound lanes are expected to remain closed until noon, troopers said.

Motorists will be diverted onto State Road 54 (exit 279). Traffic south of that exit and north of the crash will be diverted back to State Road 54 or southbound on the shoulder to State 56 to exit.

Other motorists should avoid roads in the area.

The Florida Highway Patrol said the crash occurred about 6:30 a.m.

According to investigators, the tractor-trailer was traveling south in the outside lane of I-75 in a construction zone, where it collided with a crash attenuator, troopers said.

The collision caused the truck to partially jackknife and collide with the center median guardrail, troopers said.

The dump truck, traveling behind the tractor-trailer, was unable to stop or avoid a collision, striking the rear of the tractor-trailer, troopers said.

Both drivers were able to exit their vehicles before a fire erupted on the tractor-trailer.

The tractor-trailer, operated by Pat Salmon & Sons of Jacksonville, was transporting mail, troopers said.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lucky Corvette driver survives trailer crash that experts call too common

A fortunate Chevy Corvette Z06 driver in California last week came away from a horrifying crash with only a few scrapes and a story he'll never forget after smashing into the rear of a semi trailer — exactly the kind of crash that a new report says results in death too often, due to lax standards for the trailer guards that are supposed to protect drivers.

This accident, caught by the Los Angeles Fire Department on Interstate 405, wasn't fatal thanks to the Corvette driver ducking just as his car rammed into the rear of the moving van. As the pictures from the department's Flickr page show, the Vette was destroyed by the impact, as the car dove under the trailer nearly into its rear axle. In the photo above, you can see the trailer guard jutting from the wreckage of the Corvette, which it sliced like a mandoline.

Those underride guards are mandated by the United States and Canada on all semitrailers to help prevent such accidents, and according to new research from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, they usually do a better job of stopping cars. Such crashes claimed 280 lives in the United States in 2011, the most recent data available, and by the IIHS' reckoning, most were due to cars sliding under trailers.

But the IIHS says those guards perform far worse when a vehicle strikes them off-center. To demonstrate, it staged several crash tests using parked trailers from eight manufacturers and 2010 Chevy Malibus ramming them at 35 mph. All passed the full-on tests, and seven of eight successfully handled crashes where the car hit just one half of the trailer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

FMCSA Announces Steps to Reduce GPS-Caused Bridge Strikes

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will begin issuing official recommendations to members of the commercial trucking industry on the proper uses of Global Positioning System navigation devices and incorporate GPS training into new entry-level certification programs for commercial motor vehicle operators.

This means that commercial drivers will be trained, and reminded, to only use GPS systems designed specifically for the industry.  These specialized units take into account the specifics of the truck they're in, including the height, weight and contents, and will then route the trucks onto appropriate roads. The consumer GPS units too often being used are frequently routing trucks onto inappropriate roads, causing them to crash into low overpasses and bridges.

In September, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Department of Transportation to investigate the dramatic increase in low bridge strikes by commercial trucks across New York State as a result of the growing use of GPS by drivers. According to reports from local police organizations, GPS-related bridge strikes in New York represent over 80% of all such accidents. Schumer has been working with the DOT on investigating this problem and, alongside FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro, announced that major steps are being taken to address GPS-related bridge strikes.

Read more here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hess to exit retail gas station business

Hess is getting out of the gas station business and ridding itself of its energy trading and marketing businesses, as it shifts its focus further into exploration and production.

The company will also nominate a slate of six independent directors to its board, replacing six that already hold seats.

The announcement arrives about a month after the hedge fund Elliott Management, one of the company's largest shareholders, accused the board of "poor oversight," and said that the company's management was responsible for more than a "decade of failures."

Elliott, which holds a 4 percent stake in Hess Corp., is pushing to seat five outsiders on the board.

But Hess rejected Elliott's nominees in a letter to shareholders Monday, accusing the firm of trying to disrupt progress it has already made in reshaping itself. It said that Elliott hasn't taken into account how much company shares have risen since it began to shed previous business models.

Hess said the nominees chosen by Elliott would effectively dismantle the company.

Elliott released a statement later Monday saying that while Hess' moves incorporate parts of its suggestions, they "fall dramatically short of what's needed." It touted its own slate of five board nominees, which include four with energy industry experience, and questioned the independence of Hess' slate, noting that one of the nominees has ties to the Hess family.

Hess shares fell sharply after the recession, as did shares of most energy companies, but the stock began to rebound last summer and on Monday, they hit their highest level almost two years.

Shedding the green and white gas stations that stretch from New Hampshire to Florida, the vast majority of which are owned by Hess rather than franchisees, will allow the company to broaden exploration and production capabilities.

Read more here.