E-mail indicates that some Minnesota officials are trying to hide checklist from truckers, media – and state lawmakers
Few things have generated quite the level of controversy in the trucking industry as the Fatigued Driving Evaluation Checklist.
The checklist is a project promoted by an officer of the Minnesota State Patrol, a list of apparently arbitrary questions that officers say determine whether a trucker is fatigued.
After our initial reports on the topic, truckers and state lawmakers began to inquire about the list. And many were not pleased.
Now, a memo has been sent from the e-mail account of an officer in the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Minnesota State Patrol. In the memo, other enforcement officers are told to keep quiet about the checklist, even when they’re using it, even to the trucker they’re using it on.
OOIDA obtained a copy of the e-mail from an anonymous, but reliable source. It was sent from the e-mail account of Lt. Steve Lubbert.
The memo reads as follows:
“Due to much publicity, both on a local and national level, several inquiries are being made about our fatigue report by the State Legislature, news media, etc.
“We as an organization do not want to damage what we have worked so hard to accomplish. Please use your interviewing skills to determine if the driver is fatigued.
“I ask that you do not tell the drivers that you need to fill out a checklist (worksheet), that you are taking a survey or any other statements that you use to reference the report.
“The report is for you to use to document what you observed; statements made by the driver; notes for you to reference to about the event; and as a guide to gather the various indicators from different areas on the report.”
The e-mail went on to say that enforcement officials with questions contact Lt. Thooft or Lt. Lubbert, listed as the author of the e-mail, if they had any questions about the report or the way they are using it.
Lt. Doug Thooft is listed on the State Patrol Web site as the contact person for commercial vehicle enforcement at Station 4710, the part of the State Patrol that covers the far southeastern portion of the state.
Lt. Lubbert’s e-mail also included a new version of the report. The report appears the same, with a listing of question topics divided into six categories, and with a box next to each question topic for a checkmark.
However, the title has been changed. Instead of “Fatigued Driver Evaluation Checklist,” it now says “Fatigued Driver Evaluation Report.”
A few questions have been removed – for example, the presence of reading materials such as newspapers, magazines and books, or whether the berth qualified as a sleeper.
Several new categories have been added, such as financial worries and presence of an out-of-service violation. The financial worries were not originally on the Minnesota checklist, but were on the Indiana version.
The memo raises several concerns. In the document, an official with a state agency is asking his officers to conceal from members of the public the rules that his agency will enforce on them.
That’s something that Doug Morris says should not happen.
Morris now works on the OOIDA staff, dealing with security matters. But before that, he was a commander with the Maryland State Police, spending several years in the traffic safety division, and then spending 10 to 12 years in commercial vehicle enforcement, including a stint as commander of the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division.
Morris states with some pride that Maryland is one of the premiere law-enforcement agencies when it comes to commercial vehicle enforcement.
He says an enforcement agency should never hide the rules from the public who’s called up to obey them.
“Absolutely not,” Morris said. “It should be transparent in every way and form. And it shouldn’t be used for either ridicule or to bolste