Bethel selectmen ponder speeding chip trucks
Contacting trucking company owners.
Watching particular truck drivers.
Getting chip trucks off the road completely.
Those were some of the ideas mentioned last week by Bethel selectmen to get chip trucks passing through town to slow down.
The subject was broached at last week’s board meeting by Selectman Peter Southam, who owns Bethel Bicycle on Route 2 in Mayville.
Chip truck drivers, he said, “are paid by the load. It makes them incredibly dangerous drivers. I see those drivers up close all the time, and I hear from people in the bike shop. They’re flying through Mayville. They’re going as fast as they can because that’s how they make more money.”
Southam wondered if the companies could pay the drivers differently “and get them under the speed limit."
He also wondered if there might be a way to transport chips by rail “and get them off the road completely.”
Selectman Pat Carter suggested more enforcement by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.
But Town Manager Jim Doar said the town has discussed that in the past with Sheriff Wayne Gallant.
“He said it works for one truck,” said Doar. “Then they’re all on the radio telling them the sheriff’s office is out, and they slow down. And when the sheriff’s cars aren’t there, they speed back up.”
Doar supported Southam’s suggestion to talk to company owners.
Southam said part of the problem is a policy issue.
“If you pay someone to drive faster, they’re going to drive faster,” he said.
Resident Donald J. Bennett, who lives in the Mayville area, said chip trucks also pass, on the right, vehicles that have stopped to make a left turn.
“They’re going at least 50 miles an hour,” he said.
Bethel Road Foreman Scott Sumner noted that the state had just dropped the speed limit from the North Road intersection east to the Irving station from 45 to 40 miles per hour.
Selectman Don Bennett acknowledged there is a truck problem, one he has heard complaints about over a long period of time.
But he also generally defended the trucking companies.
“They don’t put up with cowboys for drivers," he said. “If a given trucker is reported, my understanding is if it does get back through and that people have actually lost their jobs over these types of things. I think some conversations with ownership will certainly help.”
Bennett also suggested people with concerns might keep a sharper eye out.
“Probably the real resolution is for all of us along the highway to be a little more vigilant about [whether it is] all trucks, or is it one or two that may be the same driver you’re seeing three times in a day because he’s doing four trips?"
Bennett also said that Richard A. Carrier Trucking Inc. (based in Skowhegan) has the largest number of trucks passing through Bethel.
Trucking company view
Contacted last Friday, Carrier dispatcher Derek DeFelice said company drivers are not paid by the load but by the mile, though he acknowledged the concept is the same. He said drivers also get a load fee.
He had no comment on Southam’s suggestion that the payment system for drivers be changed.
“That’s company policy,” he said.
But DeFelice said Carrier takes speeding complaints very seriously.
“We always go to the highest standards on that," he said. If there is a complaint, “we immediately call the driver and get to the bottom of it. No matter how minor, want want to know about it.”
If there is a pattern of poor driving, he said, “there are consequences.”
DeFelice said people observing speeding trucks should call the company with the truck’s license plate and/or truck number, if possible.
He also noted that of the company’s 75 trucks, approximately 15 are sold each year. The new owners may operate them in this area without changing the color, he said, and thus people may confuse them with trucks currently owned by Carrier.