35-year Trucker Joe Bartlette Got A Seatbelt Ticket — Until This Video Got It Thrown Out!

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Marc Lee's Comment
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From Todd Dills / Overdrive

35-year trucker Joe Bartlette got a seatbelt ticket — until this video got it thrown out!

There’s several ways to contest a ticket received at the roadside, chief and perhaps most effective among them just having video or other evidence that clearly refutes whatever the officer is claiming. In the case of the video above, it’s exactly what Decker Truck Line driver Joe Bartlette had in the wake of a ticket he got for a seat-belt violation after a Michigan officer pulled him for a Level 3 driver inspection.

While a seat-belt violation isn’t exactly the most serious infraction one can imagine, with it comes severity points in the Unsafe Driving category of the CSA Safety Measurement System assessed to Barlette’s carrier and a blemish on his own record in what’s been an otherwise remarkably unblemished 35-year trucking career. The principal of the thing motivated him to, immediately after being issued the ticket, contact Decker in order to potentially retrieve video leading into the stop, which you can see above.

The video clearly shows Bartlette passing the officer (camped out in the median) at about the 12-second mark — he’s definitely wearing his seatbelt, as the interior-cam view shows. Further clips detail the interactions between Bartlette and the officer, who claimed he “didn’t see the seatbelt” in use when the trucker passed. “I saw the officer’s car move when I passed him but would have had no thought of hitting the button as I was driving by,” he says, referring to the manual-capture button by which operators can store clips from their on-board cameras not triggered by prefigured settings. The manual-capture stores the 15 seconds before and after the button is pushed. Hence the company had to work with SmartDrive to retrieve the footage from its “extended recording” capability, which offers the ability to retrieve specific moments.

The videos all proved the officer wrong, and when Bartlette received his court date he queried the court to figure out the best format in which to bring the evidence, which he’d stored on his phone, on his date of appearance. “We put it on a disk,” he says, and that “was pretty much all we needed. I feel sorry for the people that don’t have this,” referring to the ability to retrieve video evidence in such cases.

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Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

Junkyard Dog's Comment
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Aren't all seat belts Orange in trucks? Pretty hard to believe the officer didn't see that. Unless he was wearing a safety vest. When I used to drive my pickup I never wore my seatbelt half the time my daughter's used to get on me all the time about it. But since I've been driving over the road I literally feel naked without it. Only time it's unbuckled when I'm in the seat is when I'm backing into a spot just so I'm not so confined in looking out the window

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Junkyard K9, I thought for a while that the orange seatbelts were custom to Schneider trucks. Duh.

I also agree that I am hampered by the seatbelt while backing. I think company policy is that I wear it through the entire backing procedure. But I need to unbuckle it so I can also look backwards in addition to the mirrors and I feel safer doing that.

Solo's Comment
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All TMC trucks have standard black seat belts.

Along w/ the owner Harold having a 2nd smokestack (driver side) installed purely for looks (It's not connected to the actual exhaust system), he didn't want fender mirrors or orange seat belts in the trucks.

Bruce K.'s Comment
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Solo, I never noticed TMC didn’t have fender mirrors? What’s up with that besides the owner?

I use my fender mirrors all the time.

PJ's Comment
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Mine are black. I think the orange is/was a freightliner thing for a few years. I was just in a 2018 cascadia and those were black.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
PackRat's Comment
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When I was at Millis, they were like green. Showed up better on the dash cam.

Junkyard Dog's Comment
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I need the mods to weigh in on this now. When I was in CDL School I specifically remember them telling us that the seatbelts are orange so the DOT can see you are wearing it.

I thought Maybe that was an Iowa thing but TMC had one of their training centers right around the corner from my CDL School.


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

PackRat's Comment
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Company preference, just an option from the dealership. Has nothing to do with any laws, federal or local.

Marc Lee's Comment
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Just to be clear if you haven't seen the video...

the seatbelt in question is high-vis green!

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