Your April 21 Pre-Trip: Carrier to pay millions for crash killing 5 nursing students

Here are five things worth knowing today:

1. Total Transportation of Mississippi has agreed to pay millions and settle wrongful death lawsuits after one of its drivers was blamed for a fiery crash that killed five Georgia nursing students last year. According to WBTW News 13, the settlements were announced just before the April 22 anniversary of the crash last year. According to the report, legal depositions revealed that the carrier hired the truck’s driver, John Wayne Johnson, even after he had been fired by a previous employer for falling asleep behind the wheel. Johnson, who acknowledged that the I-16 crash in Georgia was his fault, insists he was awake. WBTW has more.

2. A trucking firm fined $950,000 for dumping saltwater on a gravel road in Williams County, ND, is expected to appeal the fine, according to the Bismarck Tribune. According to the report, the state Industrial Commission voted unanimously to move forward with its complaint against the trucking company despite recommendations from a judge who said it didn’t have the jurisdiction to fine the carrier because the incident occurred on a public road. The decision indicated that jurisdiction belonged to the health department. The complaint was brought by the commission’s department of Mineral Resources against Black Hills Trucking. The carrier has 30 days to appeal.

3. An ITS International report considers the benefits of vehicle mileage fees as an alternative to the falling fuel tax. “In moving from a fuel tax which has an indirect (and reducing) influence on how much people drive, to a VMT charge based directly on the distance the vehicle travels, this may lead to a reduction in total vehicle miles drive,” according to the report. The analysis, written by two experts in economics, considers the design and implementation of a VMT tax and considers the relationship between vehicle weight and road damage. ITS International has more.

4. Transport Topics reports that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved improving pipeline safety by reforming federal rules. According to the report, the legislation would extend oversight authority and call on the agency to focus on unfinished mandates by Congress. Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), noting pipelines are critical to the economy and entire country, said the committee looks forward to working with the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate to complete a final bill this year.

5. Interstate 85 express lanes in Gwinnett County, GA, saw a 19.6% increase in traffic volume last year, the Gwinnett Daily Post reports, making the state has the fourth largest increase in cars in toll lanes. Though the state is building similar express lanes on I-75 north and south of Atlanta, the I-85 express lanes are the state’s only operating toll lanes. The Daily Post has more.

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