December 5, 2002

SPRINGFIELD (Nov. 5)–The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety said it would levy a monetary penalty against crew-van contractor Baldwin Shuttle following a UTU complaint that a Baldwin vehicle operated by an apparently fatigued driver repeatedly endangered the life of a UTU member riding as a passenger.

In a December 3 letter to UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo, Jim Burke, manager of IDOT’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Section, said an investigation had disclosed that the UTU member had been accurate in describing an incident that occurred October 18 on a shuttle trip between Decatur and Champaign.

Szabo’s November 8 letter of complaint to the Illinois State Police said, “It has been reported that on October 18th the driver for Baldwin Shuttle ran off the road three times while driving. Noting the driver’s apparent fatigue, the member asked the driver if was tired, and his reply was he took a couple of trips last night. This trip was at 4:40 a.m. The member, concerned about his own safety, used his cell phone to call for another cab. The driver then tried to drive away so the member jumped out and stood on Interstate 72 for one hour waiting for another cab.”

In his response of December 3 Burke wrote Szabo: “On November 25-27 a Compliance Review (audit) was performed on Baldwin Shuttle. Several instances of non-compliance were discovered as they pertain to Driver Qualification files and Hours of Service….A civil monetary penalty will be assessed against Baldwin and our office will schedule follow-up visits until we are satisfied with their compliance.”

Szabo said IDOT’s prompt action proves the effectiveness of the crew-van monitoring guidelines
published in “Hot Topics” last April 5.

“IDOT’s swift and decisive resolution of this complaint shows that if UTU members carefully document an incident and report it to the union, we will follow up and so will the authorities, and if there is any basis to the complaint, appropriate action will be taken.”

Szabo said that in addition to driver fatigue and unsafe vehicle operation, members who travel in crew vans should be alert for mechanical defects and safety violations in the vehicles themselves.

“Any missing or malfunctioning safety appliances, such as brake lights, windshield wipers, rear-view mirrors or turn signals should of course be reported,” he said. “Broken windows, underinflated or unevenly worn tires, noisy mufflers and anything else that suggests deferred maintenance should be reported as well,” he said.

“It also is important to write down what you see as soon as you see it,” he said. “Don’t assume you’ll remember everything once you get to your destination. Describe the nature of the violation, and be sure to include the vehicle’s license number, the state issuing the license, and the vehicle’s fleet number. The time, date and location of your observation are important, as is the name of the driver, if available.”

Szabo said Crew Van Safety Complaint forms are available from local legislative representatives and also may be accessed over the Illinois UTU Web site, Paper forms also may be ordered from Board secretary Tina O’Brien at (312) 236-5353.

“The system works,” Szabo said, “but only if members get involved.”