Federal trucking safety rules aren’t being enforced, says Jackie Novak

“The federal agency charged with overseeing trucking safety should heed a complaint filed by a Hendersonville woman who lost her son in the horrific crash last October [2010] that claimed five lives on Interstate 26,” according to a news article in the Hendersonville Times-News.

The article continues:

On Oct. 24, an 18-wheeler driven by Rouman Velkov plowed into a line of nine cars. The wreck took the lives of Charles Novak, 22, of Hendersonville; Amber Reed, 26, of Hendersonville; Theresa Seaver, 23, of Asheville; and Gail Kimble, 55, and Alvin Kimble Jr., 60, of Lexington, S.C. The pileup happened just before 11 p.m. on I-26 eastbound at Butler Bridge Road, where traffic had stopped because of an earlier accident. Witnesses reported seeing Velkov driving erratically just before the crash.

Authorities charged Velkov, 47, with five counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of assault causing serious bodily injury, and having falsified records and an improper medical certificate.

Jackie Novak filed complaint in June 29 this year against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

A trucking accident attorney with Carey, Danis & Lowe had this to say about Novak’s efforts:

Velkov worked for Globe Carrier Co. when he slammed into nine cars last Oct. 24, killing Chuck Novak, 22, and four others. At the time, he was not medically cleared to drive a commercial truck. He also had a record of safety violations, including going over the maximum allowable hours of driving per day as well as falsifying his hours of service logs. A safety audit conducted Nov. 9, after the crash, found that he had violated HOS rules that day as well. Jackie Novak’s claim against the FMCSA faults the agency for failing to take Velkov off the road despite Globe Carrier’s record of safety violations. …

Jackie Novak’s case is unusual in that it asks the FMCSA to better enforce its own rules and, as an afterthought, [asks it] for money. She and her attorney know very well that they will not be able to sue the FMCSA in court (because of a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity), which means this claim is essentially a cry of protest against the FMCSA’s lax enforcement. I strongly agree that the agency can do better than it did with Globe Carrier.

Novak is pursuing her crusade to get the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to enforce its rules. Here she is making her case in an Oct. 6, 2011 video:

Last year, the Hendersonville Times-News editorialized:

The federal agency charged with overseeing trucking safety should heed a complaint filed by a Hendersonville woman who lost her son in the horrific crash last October that claimed five lives on Interstate 26. …

Violations noted after the crash included that Globe fraudulently or intentionally made a false entry on a medical examiner’s certificate, failed to investigate a driver’s background, used a driver (Velkov) not medically examined and certified in the preceding 24 months and required or permitted him to drive more than 11 hours. The audit also found the company falsified records, made fraudulent or intentionally false statements, and failed to request information from previous employers or ask whether the driver had failed or refused a drug test.

The fact that Globe and Velkov were on the highway with these violations is an indictment against federal regulators. …


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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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