National Pilot Car Association

"So everyone gets home safe"


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  • 24 Feb 2016 8:49 AM | NPCA (Administrator)

    Nearly three years after an oversize tractor-trailer accidentally knocked down Washington state's Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge, lawyers still are in the early stages of a court fight to determine fault and assess who foots the $17 million repair bill.


    There are depositions scheduled for April and May, court briefs yet to be filed, a possible mediation hearing in June and, if all settlement efforts fail, a trial that could drag into summer - or longer.


    In its final 2014 report of the May 2013 mishap, the National Transportation Safety Board blamed Canadian motor carrier Mullen Trucking's driver and crew, especially the driver of a pilot escort car for being on the phone with her husband just before the accident,. NTSB also noted that a weak permitting process by Washington transportation officials also contributed to the accident.


    The NTSB investigation results largely were !mirrored in a civil lawsuit filed early last year against Mullen by the

    Washington State Department of Transportation, which claimed the company driver and pilot escort's actions were "dangerous" and "negligent."


    The state's lawsuit was consolidated in December with two separate lawsuits seeking undisclosed damages filed by three motorists who "suffered physical and emotional injuries" when their vehicles "plunged into the river" during the bridge collapse, according to court documents.


    In addition to Mullen, defendants in the consolidated lawsuits include William Scott, the truck driver whose truck hit the bridge; the pilot escort vehicle driver, Tammy Detray; G&T Crawler Service; and Saxon Energy Services, whose metal casing shed was on the truck headed for Vancouver, Washington.


    Scott stayed in the right southbound lane of the bridge, the state's complaint said.


    "Had Scott acted reasonably, prudently and safely by driving in the left southbound lane of the Skagit River Bridge, which had adequate vertical clearance, the Saxon load, the subject collision would not have occurred," according to the WSDOT complaint.


    The state did not comment on the case, instead relying on court documents to make its arguments.


    But Mullen's cross claim denies many of the state's allegations and says that assessing legal blame in the case will be complex.


    The legal discovery in the case is "just now unfolding," said Mullen's attorney, Thomas Tobin, a White Plains, New York based partner of the national law firm of Wilson Elser.


    "It's like a lot of these accidents where there's a conglomeration of factors, any one of which potentially might have avoided the calamity," Tobin told Transport Topics.


    "Our driver hit the bridge," he added. "There's very little doubt about that at this point. But there's some fault to share here. It's not quite so simple as a truck hitting a bridge. There were other things going on."


    Tobin said Mullen's driver involved in the incident had almost 1million accident-free miles hauling oversize loads.


    "Unfortunately, the bridge, which had been erected in 1954, was 'fracture critical' - meaning that the failure of any one of 88 critical elements would cause it to collapse," Tobin added. "It had also been classified by the Federal Highway Administration as 'functionally obsolete' due to its narrow shoulders, narrow lanes and low vertical clearance."


    But Christopher Davis, a Seattle attorney representing two of the injured motorists, said that it is clear that the truck driver and pilot escort driver had "serious lapses of judgment and knowingly went over a bridge when they knew or should have known that their oversized load was going to strike a portion of the bridge."


    Davis said Mullen's attorneys are attempting to blame three other parties, including the state of Washington. "It's a fairly big case, complicated and has lots of parties," he added. "But because the defendants have requested mediation, we're feeling like they want to settle."

    By Eric Miller

    Staff Reporter

    Transport Topics


  • 10 Feb 2016 8:19 PM | NPCA (Administrator)

    In ACT Magazine's February 2016 edition, National Pilot Car Association President Mike Morgan was featured in Hal Lundgren's article titled Pilot Car Safety. CLICK HERE if you would like to download a PDF copy of this article, and feel free to discuss it below! If you would like to read the rest of ths edition of ACT Magazine, visit their website and sign up to receive a FREE edition.

  • 22 Jan 2016 10:27 AM | NPCA (Administrator)

                A delegation of pilot car drivers recently met with Terry Boose, Chairman of the Ohio State House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to discuss Ohio’s rules and requirements for the pilot car industry. National Pilot Car Association President Mike Morgan, Legislative Vice President Isaac Kight, and Board of Directors member Bill King attended along with Ohio pilot car operator Elizabeth Zinslen. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Troopers were also represented at the meeting.

                After introductions and a brief discussion of the industry needs, Isaac Kight gave a brief presentation about the pilot car industry, professional standards, and the requests of the delegation for reforms to be made in Ohio. The list included a certification standard, equipment requirements, the enforcement of basic legal compliance (license, registration, certification, equipment, etc.) and finally, the creation of a webpage on which all state rules and regulations regarding oversize load and pilot car requirements can be found.

                The results of the meeting were positive: ODOT is working on a new website and will be looking into creating pages for the requirements per the industry request. ODOT is also now exploring the certification process and professional standards as put forth by several professional organizations (on which NPCA is already coordinating and offering input). The Ohio State Troopers are more than willing to enforce guidelines and requirements that are set forth by ODOT and the legislature, provided that they are clear and “black and white.” All parties are eager for further communication and interaction on these matters, whether they will be reflected in administrative, regulatory, or legislative changes. Another meeting will be held in April to continue the dialogue.


    Going Forward


                NPCA is in the final throws of advancing a new website. As the site develops, we will add a blog for legislative matters to offer a place for members and leaders to discuss the process of reaching out to the states. Member input is extremely valuable for the leadership, and it is a high priority to increase member participation in the process. In the coming year, new delegations need to form in several states to start the long process of advancing the agenda of the NPCA and its membership.

                The primary need now is increased membership. The NPCA is growing and exerting influence. The legislative project is but one of many major initiatives under development by the NPCA, and has already met with significant success. The NPCA needs its members to help reach out to friends and coworkers and encourage them to become members. As the organization grows it can exert influence over a wider range of issues and in a greater number of states.

  • 28 Dec 2015 4:48 PM | NPCA (Administrator)

    Welcome to the ALL NEW NPCA.NEWS

    Happy Holidays from the NPCA and welcome to our BRAND NEW website! We've made it easier for you to see and participate in the on-goings of the National Pilot Car Association.

    Here's what you need to know!

    All members will still be able to log in using the email address you provided when you applied on the old website. YOU WILL NEED TO RESET YOUR PASSWORD using the email address you used to sign in to the old NPCA website. RESET YOUR PASSWORD USING THIS LINK!

    You will find some of your account information has been moved over - however you will need to upload any pictures and fill in some additional information that was unable to be moved over. We apologize for this inconvenience. Your membership will be current - however any recurring payments will need to be set up once more through the new website.

    We hope you enjoy the updated look and feel of this new website - and we encourage you to check back often to see new updates and improvements.

    If you have any questions or concerns - please do not hesitate to contact us at our NEW email:

    From all of us at the NPCA - we'd like to wish you a happy and SAFE New Years!

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