Aroostook truckers credited for safety on the road

1 year ago

ST. AGATHA, Maine — The regard for the safety of others on the road shown by 80 truckers at an Aroostook transport company is racking up respect from those vested in keeping Maine roads safe. 

R.F. Chamberland of St. Agatha earned the Maine Motor Transport Association’s Grand Champion award as the state’s safest motor carrier for the fourth time since 2017.

The award is the highest honor MMTA presents to its trucking industry members. The third generation family owned business beat out giants in the industry such as Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Transportation, Pottle’s Transportation of Hermon, Hartt Transportation of Bangor and H.O. Bouchard Inc. of Hampden.

 “This is our fourth award because the Chamberland family prioritizes safety and obedience to law over profit,” said Chris Cyr, R.F. Chamberland’s director of risk management. 

R.F. Chamberland drivers chalked up around 28 million travel miles throughout the United States and Canada over the course of the four awards, he said.

Maine State Police Lt. Aaron Hayden of Troop K, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, visited the R.F. Chamberland headquarters in St. Agatha on Tuesday where he commended Cyr on the business’ continued dedication to safety. 

“The drivers do an amazing job; these are professional drivers,” Hayden said. “They’ve done a fantastic job in making safety a priority even in terms of hiring.”

Commercial vehicle fatalities are trending upwards nationally, especially with a rise in distracted driving, but those deaths are decreasing in Maine, according to a Maine State Police official.

More than 60 percent of all fatalities involving commercial vehicles are caused by a passenger car leaving a travel lane — either pulling in front of someone, crossing the center line or just not operating safely, Hayden said.  

The goal of Troop K is to bring the number of commercial vehicle fatalities in Maine to zero. Last year Maine saw 13 such traffic deaths, and tends to average 10-19 annually, Hayden said. 

Maine is doing a good job at keeping those numbers low, but zero is the goal because one life lost on Maine roads is one too many, he said, adding it’s important for officials and the trucking industry to work together.

 In conjunction with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Maine Department of Transportation, Troop K is launching a Share the Roads Campaign to educate drivers how to operate safely around commercial vehicles. 

Even with the most conscientious of truck drivers behind the wheel, it is imperative that passenger cars exercise caution when maneuvering near them, Hayden said.

“These trucks cannot stop on a dime they need the road. They need their space,” he said. “These weigh 80,000 pounds. Your car weighs 3,000 pounds.”