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Dangerous driver case: maybe regulators should be punished, too

After perusing the details of a particularly harrowing tale regarding a dangerous commercial trucker, many readers might be reasonably thinking that the discipline handed out was less than meaningful and comprehensive.

When you look at what might be called the “rap sheet” of the trucker, who was most recently licensed in California, it is manifestly clear that he was a loose cannon on the road and an imminent threat to the lives of other drivers every time he got behind the wheel.

And he got behind the wheel a lot, and managed to stay there in recent years, from coast to coast, despite this: two drinking-related convictions in Connecticut and multiple drunk driving convictions in Massachusetts.

In all those instances, he was driving his rig while inebriated.

And following each incident, he somehow managed to have his suspended CDL license reinstated.

Most recently, the license in his wallet reflected that he was duly licensed by the state of California, notwithstanding a driving record that would seem to indicate in compelling fashion the need to keep him permanently grounded in order to protect the lives of others.

It is unclear why California officials licensed the trucker. That they did seems flatly inexplicable and an act that would almost certainly presage further trouble on a freeway or interstate somewhere.

And, of course, that was the case. Illinois police officers stopped the driver last month after noting his erratic driving behavior on a road in that state. He turned out to have a blood alcohol reading that was close to seven times the legal limit for behind-the-wheel intoxication. Miraculously, he did not cause a serious or fatal crash before he managed to pull his truck off the road.

Following that incident, federal authorities finally acted, with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issuing a so-called “shutdown order” taking the driver off the road.

Wasn’t that long overdue? Given the driver’s history, how could he continue to operate over time on any road in America with a valid commercial driving license?

Candidly, doesn’t his case call for an examination into the nation’s process for identifying problem drivers and getting them off state and national roadways?


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