Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ready to be a First Observer?

I saw this over at

Ready to be a First Observer?

OOIDA is playing an important role in a federal program to involve truckers with homeland security issues. The program is now ready to register participants.

OOIDA is a subcontractor for First Observer – the Transportation Security Administration’s trucking security program. First Observer aims to develop training modules for highway professionals, train them for anti-terrorism and security preparedness, and receive information from those drivers.

If you have access to a computer, the best way to register as a First Observer is to go to the Web site,

. If you don’t have access, call the 24/7 number at 888-217-5902, and an operator will help you register.

The First Observer program is run by HMS Co. under a contract funded by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

OOIDA will provide training and outreach to its nearly 160,000 membership of small-business and professional truckers. Other subcontractors under HMS Co. include the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Total Security Services International Inc., and Patton Boggs LLP.

“The Homeland Security award for the program was based on the strength of the team, and largely on the ability of OOIDA and the Teamsters to recruit, train and communicate effectively with highway professionals,” said Rick Craig, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs. “We’ll be working with HMS Company to train many truck drivers, who obviously have a unique position in being the eyes and ears on U.S. highways.”

OOIDA will be a program partner of First Observer, which will be based in the Washington, DC, area. First Observer has a staffed call center in the DC area, which is trained to gather pertinent information from trucking professionals.

Craig said the Association will use its resources to help recruit and train First Observer members and assist in outreach efforts to various other interested stakeholders.

OOIDA’s TRACER system, a stand-alone program that is funded and operated solely by the Association, is capable of communicating security-related messages, Craig said.

TRACER stands for Transportation Alert Communications and Emergency Response.

“In instances where Homeland Security issues an alert, OOIDA’s TRACER system could be used to push out the communication from the Highway Information Sharing and Analysis Center and other sources to First Observer participants,” Craig told Land Line.

Doug Morris, OOIDA director of security operations, is leading the Association’s First Observer efforts.

Morris said he expects many OOIDA members to participate in First Observer.

“OOIDA members will be encouraged to participate in the program’s diverse security training modules and to take advantage of the planned two-way focused communication,” Morris said.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

Editor’s note: Again, for more information on First Observer, go to or call 888-217-5902. You can also call OOIDA at 800-444-5791.

Minnesota law bans large trucks from Stillwater Lift Bridge

Heads Up!!

Saw this over at

May 28, 2009

Minnesota law bans large trucks from Stillwater Lift Bridge

A new law in Minnesota makes a lift bridge northeast of Minneapolis off-limits to truck drivers.

Previously SF1091, the new rule restricts the length of commercial vehicle combinations using state Highway 36 in downtown Stillwater, MN, to 55 feet. It is common for truckers to use the route to access the Stillwater Lift Bridge, which crosses the St. Croix River.

Signs notifying truckers of the length restriction are required to be posted by July 1. The restriction will not apply to specially permitted vehicles.

Advocates say the ban was necessary to crack down on truckers using the Stillwater bridge to avoid inspections at the St. Croix Weigh Station/Hudson Port of Entry on Interstate 94.

Others say it will alleviate congestion downtown and reduce wear and tear on the aging structure.

“I regret having to impose restrictions on commercial trucks accessing the bridge, but until we can get a new river crossing there is simply no other choice. Public safety must be our number one concern, and we are hopeful these new limits will reduce the risk of personal injury and property damage in downtown Stillwater,” Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, said in a written statement.

Critics say it is bad public policy to prohibit vehicles from roads that are paid for with taxes. Trucking officials in the state say there’s no quick and easy alternate route.

Linda Marotz, part owner of DL & S Carriers in Stillwater, doesn’t buy that argument.

“They can go around,” Marotz told Land Line. “How hard is it for somebody to drive five miles down the road to go across the I-94 bridge at Hudson?”

Marotz, wife of OOIDA member Donald Marotz, said the ban is long overdue.

“As far as I’m concerned, they should have banned trucks on that bridge 10 years ago. It just makes sense,” she said.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Minnesota in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to