Action Against Distraction: Campaign to Stay Focused on the Road

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We see and hear the message all the time.

“Don’t Text and Drive!”

Makes sense when we’re cruising around on our own time, meeting up with friends and making plans on the fly. That text can wait a few extra minutes.

On the job, when we are working on the customer’s time, the situation changes.

But the importance of safety does not.

Dan McWilliams of McWilliams Moving & Storage in Peterborough, Ontario is responding to the all-too-common practice of texting while driving by initiating a campaign he calls Action Against Distraction. He’s calling attention to the importance of keeping our eyes and our minds on the road by placing decals on all his trucks with a simple message for everyone on the road: “The Safest Move You Can Make – Don’t Text & Drive.”

Texting, however, is not the sole target of the campaign.

“Distracted driving isn’t just about texting or talking on the phone while driving,” says Larry Morgan, safety and compliance officer for McWilliams Moving and Storage. Mr. Morgan goes on to say that it can be anything that distracts you visually, cognitively or physically, including eating, changing radio stations and looking around in the car for a dropped item.

I’ll raise my hand and admit my guilt. Anyone else out there?

Part of Action Against Distraction involves a contest for high school seniors, with cash prizes of $1,000 for writing essays or organizing community programs on distracted driving. While these may be out of our reach we can take part by reminding our own crews – not to mention our family and friends – about how easy it can be to get distracted on the road. And how serious the consequences can be.

Want to spread the word on your own vehicles?

We contacted McWilliams Moving & Storage about their campaign, inquiring specifically about the decals they are putting on all their trucks. We were put in touch with the guys at Auto Graphics in Peterborough who tell us their decals are available in three sizes, from 17” x 14” to 30” x 24”. For further details contact Auto Graphics toll-free at 1-877-430-3616.

And hey, stay safe out there!

Blowing the Whistle on Fraud

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For all the federal regulation of the transportation industry too many issues within the moving, industry go unresolved by those same regulatory feds. But when the government’s own money is at stake they don’t fool around.

This past month the US Attorney’s Office in South Carolina settled a suit involving several companies accused of falsifying weights on military and public servant shipments. The penalty for falsifying info and then charging the government for the inflated weights? A cool $5 million.

It’s no surprise that Uncle Sam does not take such dishonest behavior lightly. What is interesting is how the feds found out about the ongoing scheme.

As part of the Federal False Claim Act, enacted during the Civil War and revamped in 1986 to give it some teeth, whistleblowers (also called ‘Relators’) are rewarded for reporting illegal actions. This stems from the feds’ own recognition that “the government lacks the information and resources to pursue all those who submit false and fraudulent claims to the government” and allows “any person or entity to file a False Claims Act case on behalf of the federal government.”

In this case, employees of one of the companies charged with fraud witnessed and then reported the falsification of government shipment weights. As this WJBF (Augusta, Georgia) report says, “the False Claim Act allows the government to recover actual damages and penalties of three times the actual damages and up to $11,000 per false claim.” In other words, this crime pays if you are the feds – or the whistleblowers, who are entitled to a chunk of the settlement, usually 15-25% of whatever money the feds are able to recover. In this case, that meant $1.25 million, split between two people.

We’ll skip the lawyer-speak and take it from Whistleblowers.org that “the False Claims Act has one of the strongest whistleblower protection provisions in the United States.” Still, even if the whistleblower doesn’t suddenly show up to work in a new Ferrari, there are acknowledged risks in blowing the whistle on your employer. As Whistleblower tells us, those protection provisions have “many complicated components and requirements, which can harm any person that pursues such a claim without counsel.”

In other words, the whistleblower needs to have a strong case from the get-go. Because as much as the feds don’t like being defrauded, they don’t have the time or the resources to go around investigating every tiny incident that gets reported. And if they find out the whistleblower is full of hot air? Let’s just say Uncle Sam doesn’t take that sort of dishonesty lightly either.

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