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Mike Bryant
Mike Bryant
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Is Minnesota Fatigue Checklist Unfairly Stopping Truck Drivers?

7 comments

There was a federal lawsuit filed this past week that will look at the issue of truck driver safety. Basically, Capt. Ken Urquhart, a District Commander with the Minnesota State Patrol in the Commercial Enforcement Division created a Fatigued Driving Evaluation Checklist which was to be used by troopers in deciding if a driver should be taken of the road. Drivers have united and decided to fight the effort.

Suit was filed against the state by two drivers who are taking the position that the checklist is arbitrary. They have used the tact of pointing out that the list includes question about appearance and cab use that are either silly or not relevant to the question of how tired the driver is.

Officer Urquhart was interviewed some time ago and described the questioning as “It’s similar to the drug recognition examiner, that once you complete that training, there’s the message they tell you is that you’ll have a better working knowledge of drug abuse than most MDs do, because you’re focused, you’re focused on a very narrow aspect of that person." Drivers have responded with questions about the medical support for the testing and for the troopers to even use the list.

The court will be asked to define the use of the test and if it is used for actual non medical diagnosis or if it does illegally infringe upon drivers’ rights to do their job. It’s expected that the state will defend the list as one tool in the investigation and that the list needs to be read as a whole. It would seem that there will need to be a look at when the list is used. Since it would require some underlying cause to stop and question the driver to start with, what questions are asked would need to be justified under a relevance standard before the answers could be used to ground a driver.

7 Comments

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  1. Daniel 8791 says:
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    I’ve heard a bit about this in the past and am glad to see there is a fatigue checklist. But at the same time, there needs to be probable cause of a violation in order to stop any driver on the road including big rig drivers. And the list definitely needs to become public information (if not) with the supposed silly questions like “appearance of the driver” and anything else that may infringe on a persons rights. I think with a little bit of work that they’ll get this thing worked out pretty quickly.

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    The fatigue checklist is interesting. I hawaii you can’t really drive far enough to get fatigued but we do have the problem nevertheless.

  3. Mike Bryant says:
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    very good points, thanks to both of you for taking the time to read and leave a comment.

  4. David says:
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    How is a driver supose to rest or sleep for 10 hours if shut down with the Fatigued Driving Checklist when he/she just got finished doing their required 10 hour rest stop? MN DOT has shut down drivers who have just started their day legally.
    Some points on the checklist:

    1: As far as not being freshly showered, sometimes there is a several hour wait at a truckstop for a shower, I would rather sleep and get a shower some other place.

    2: Dirty Truck (Exterior)
    What does this have to do with being fatigued. Try to keep a truck clean in winter or when it’s raining! It costs up to $100 to wash the truck.

    3: Wastebasket full?
    Would you rather drivers throw their litter out the window?

    4: Reading materials/TV/DVD/Laptop?
    Trucks are our home on wheels when away from home. Why should we not have some creature comfort items? Maybe the DOT officers should give up the same things so we know they are properly rested!

    5: Food/Sodas/Caffinated beverages:
    What is wrong with that?

    6: Clothing in CAB?
    Can you imagine how bad a driver would smell if he/she didn’t have a change of clothing. Truckers sometimes spend weeks on the road at a time. Maybe Drivers should go naked!

    7: Urine bottle present:
    Truckers cannot just stop anywhere they please. There are lots of restrictions on where a truck can drive let alone park. In most states parking on a on/off ramp can earn a driver a ticket. So where is a driver to urinate? One other factor, urinating in public is also illegal, even on roadside and sometimes can be charged as a SEX OFFENCE.

    8: Money/Family Concerns:
    Just what gives the MN DOT or State Patrol the right to even ask about a drivers personal finances or family problems. This is truly an invasion of privacy.

    9: Sleep Apnea and CPAP machine present:
    If a driver is diagnosed with apnea and has a CPAP machine to solve the apnea, the driver gets 2 checkmarks against him.

    10: Overly Agreeable or Appears Irratable:
    That is definately a catch 22. You get a checkmark on one or the other.

    That is only 10 from the Fatigued Driving Checklist. If you want to actually see the checklist, do a GOOGLE search for “Fatigued Driving Checklist” I know of several sites that have it published and many articles. This is a blatant violation of the constitution that these law enforcement officers have sworn to defend.

  5. Mike Bryant says:
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    It’s a link in the article above. Thanks for all of the additional information. It’s clear that this is an issue that many people feel strongly about. Thanks for taking the time to read and leave such an informative comment.

  6. Kenneth says:
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    Well I am a truck driver myself and for me it is just a way for the mn dot to just make more money in safetys intrest.It is just another way for them to use us as a so called rolling atm. This is what we are thought of. I cant stand it this capt. saying that his officers are more qualified then a doctor is crazy. Doctors go to school for years and what are these officers being made to go through what look through a check list and told what to look for. I dont know about every one else but I am outraged about this I will not go back into mn for nothing ever again. More people need to do the same. What happens when us so called tired drivers stop going to that state and stop taking there food and supplys in there. I for one will not go back in there and I have a few other trucker friends that drive runs into mn that dont go there anymore because of this. Thanks for letting me say my part on this. I can understand if a driver is driving crazy and cant control his rig but that goes for anyone out there are they going to do this to everyone take all lifes good things away ( tv,computer,books,food,clothing,and ect. lets just stop eating and enjoying life and all go naked including the MN dot as well Thanks Alot Kenneth

  7. Mike Bryant says:
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    I appreciate you taking the time to read and post a comment. I can understand the concern about the couple of comments that the officer is making. Good luck as you continue to drive and be safe.