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June 2022 Newsletter

Jun 10, 2022
This month's featured member:
Ron Brentson

Federal News

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy made the following statement regarding highway fatalities after NHSTA released their preliminary data from 2021 crash statistics:

“The NHSTA projections for 2021 are devastating. We need to fundamentally change the way we approach traffic safety in the United States to save lives on our roadways. Overreliance on ineffective driver education and enforcement programs is a failure that has left gaps in the safety of our roadways. The results of these safety gaps is that more than 42,900 people were killed last year. We need to move towards a Safe System Approach: a holistic safety approach focused on designing roads for all users, not just drivers, to engineering redundancy into our built environment; changing how we set speed limits in this country; mandating speed cameras; requiring safety technologies as standard in vehicles, to start. More Americans are seriously injured and killed on U.S. roads than in all other modes of transportation combined – by a long shot. That’s why the NTSB has put so much effort into attacking this colossal safety challenge, and why five of the ten issues on our ‘Most Wanted List’ are on roadway safety.”

Chair Homendy has been urgently recommending the NHTSA and Congress include crash-avoidance technologies in the New Car Assessment Program and has been an aggressive advocate for the FHA’s Safe System Approach; the vision of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on our Nation’s roads.

VCT – Safety Trends

Days Since Last Unsafe Driving Violation: 10

Days Since Last Out of Service Order: 3

Days Since Last Injury: 15

Current Unsafe Driving CSA Percentile: 16%

The Washington State Patrol strives to make the state’s roadways the safest in the nation. Through education and enforcement, the agency aims to ensure compliance with commercial motor vehicle regulations in order to protect resources, prevent collisions, and save lives. – Washington State Patrol, Commercial Division.

The primary purpose of issuing unsafe driving violations is to prevent accidents by recognizing behavior that could lead to them. Each interaction with law enforcement should be taken as a learning opportunity. Be honest with yourself and strive to improve any habits that may reflect negatively on yourself, your team, the industry, or have a harmful outcome on the motorists we share the road with.

Results of CVSA’s International Roadcheck 2022 have not yet been released, but for VCT we consider this year a success. Between both East and West, we had no equipment pulled in for a roadside inspection during the three-day blitz. For the month of May as a whole, our team earned ten inspections with no violations and only four with violations. Three of those four violations were overweight loads and not calculated against our Vehicle Maintenance SMS scores. The lack of attention on us can be attributed to the historical positive performance you have shown at roadside inspections. We are now reaping the benefits of the hard work we put in over the years to prove our dedication to safety. When the opportunity arises, thank a mechanic for their hard work and attention to detail keeping our equipment operational, safe, and legal. We thank each and every one of you for remaining vigilant, conducting thorough pre-trip inspections, and reporting all defects in a timely manner. It takes every member of this team doing their part to allow us to continue to be as successful as we have. The future holds great things for VCT.

The next blitz will be CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week, July 10th through 16th, with a focus on speeding.

“This safe driving initiative and campaign focuses specifically on the drivers’ actions – whether it’s something a driver did, like speeding, or something they didn’t do, such as not paying attention to the driving task. This focus on drivers’ behaviors is our effort to identify and educate drivers who are operating dangerously on our roadways, with the goal of preventing crashes from occurring. - CVSA President, Capt. John Broers, South Dakota Highway Patrol.

CVSA also has Brake Safety Week scheduled for August 21st through 27th.

Upcoming Saturday Dispatch

6/21 - Ron 6/25 – Rob

7/2 – Scott 7/9 - Wade

From The Team – Ron Brentson

(Truck 2117 – Shelton, WA)

For those who are curious, Ron saw Star Wars at its initial release as a double feature at a drive-in theatre along with the movie “Asteroids” which had significantly less success.

He started his driving career as a route driver for a tire distributor where he discovered he greatly enjoyed being on the road. After some time, he began considering his future and looking for a career with better and more steady pay. Influenced in part by his grandfather who drove truck for almost 50 years, Ron decided to earn his CDL. Ron described him has the strongest man he’d ever known. He recounted his grandfather’s accomplishments of serving in the Korean War, working for Mobile Oil for 40 years, and working his way up to a management position before retiring. “Anytime I get behind the wheel, it feels like he’s in the passenger seat with me.”

Ron spent five years over the road both driving and training and is proud to say he was able to pat his feet in every state of the lower 48. Ron emphasizes that he didn’t quit long haul because he didn’t enjoy it, but that he missed his friends and family. Again, looking to his future, he needed to consider what he wanted out of his truck driving career.

The next step was driving chip truck for Walsh. During his time there he also assisted with dispatch when coverage was needed. Unfortunately, his tenure was cut short after he rolled his truck. Ron struggled to find a job, and for four months no company would consider his application. “It damn near ended my career.” After reaching out to Jon Lucich every couple weeks during this time, he was finally given the opportunity to redeem himself. “They believe in giving people their shot.” He said about Jon and James Lucich.

Ron easily proved himself a skilled driver and asset to the team. After several years and as the company grew, help was needed with a full-time swing shift dispatcher. Jon looked to Ron as he already had a little bit of a logistical background. At first Ron declined the promotion because he preferred his position on day shift. He quickly changed his mind though; “Sometimes to take a step forward you have to take a small step back.” Several years later he went back to driving truck. In addition to wanting to be able to spend more time with his family, his time in the office made him realize he still really enjoyed driving. “It was a great experience, I’m thankful for being able to do it, but this truck is where I really want to be.”

Passion for the safety of his teammates and the motoring public is clear through the values he instills in the new hires he trains. He said it really upsets him when he sees a truck following the vehicle in front of them so closely you couldn’t fit a smart car between the two. He tells every new hire, “Don’t become complacent in the truck. Something will always catch you by surprise out here.” When asked about how he maintained a violation free record at roadside inspections, his answer was effectively simple. “You know what these trucks and trailers look like; if you’re looking at all you know if something looks out of place.”

In addition to his hobbies of fishing, smoking meats, and canning, Ron is also branching out into creating his own mustards and BBQ sauces. “I have two that I can call my own.” He said of the BBQ sauce. “One started out as a mock Sweet Baby Ray’s; I cut the sugar way back, added a little smoke, a little heat. The other is a Carolina style that I messed around with and wrote it down.”

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