After deadly crash on turnpike, area truck drivers say safety is top priority

After a deadly crash on the Kansas Turnpike Saturday, area truck drivers maintain safety is a top priority in the industry.

“Safety’s number one,” says owner of White Line Commercial Driver’s License Training Don Losson. Although, he adds that wasn’t always the case.

“The trucking industry itself has come a long ways to retrain itself to make itself safer because of the repercussions of accidents and the dangers of the road,” Losson says.

At White Line, students get a total of 160 hours in training – 80 at the wheel and 80 at the desk.

“We teach them how to, you know, all the safety issues, what to look for in fellow drivers,” Losson says.

Plus students learn the strict rules about hours of service. Drivers have to take 10 hours off in between shifts, can only drive 11 hours a shift, and have to take a 30-minute break after eight hours.

“It used to be, that was not enforced too much,” Losson says, “Nowadays it’s very strictly enforced, they have electronic logs nowadays.”

“There’s no way you can cheat or anything,” adds truck driver Wesley Smith, “I clock in, the computer keeps track of my time.”

Smith has been driving trucks for more than 35 years.

“Our company has in place what they call pure safety,” Smith says, “Every month and we keep up to date on our safety and the company’s really good about not making us get in a hurry, you know, if you’re tired, take a break, pull over, rest, don’t be out there endangering anybody.”

While the safety measures are in place, Losson says it all comes down to who is behind the wheel.

“Be in control of your own truck, know your limits and just do the right thing, do the proper thing and be safe.”

Losson adds if a driver violates the rules regarding hours of service, they can be ticketed or terminated.

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