TV-6 Investigates: Is Muscatine Truck Driver Safe To Drive? - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

TV-6 Investigates: Is Muscatine Truck Driver Safe To Drive?

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They're on the roads and highways driving right alongside you.

Delivering everything from wind turbine blades to groceries.

Truck drivers.

TV-6 Investigates has found not all truckers have to follow the same medical rules in the state.

There are exceptions allowed.

Driver Troy Bellinger has driven trucks professionally for several years.

First for a construction company and now for his sister.

When he was driving on a job site, he didn't need to have a special medical certificate to let him drive.

He needs that certificate to drive for his sister.

The government's not giving him a new one, even though Bellinger says he's safe to drive.

From the outside, you wouldn't give Dieckman Trucking's dump truck a second look. It's just another truck, bouncing down the highway. That is, until you get to know the company's driver Troy Bellinger.

"I can't throw a football, I can't throw a baseball, and my handwriting is very bad," says company truck driver Troy Bellinger.

He can drive a truck, although, in a way you might not expect.

"I push on the clutch, I shift, and then I go."

Bellinger can't use his right arm. It's the result of a motorcycle accident back in 1991. After three years he went back to work. Starting in a pallet factory, moving to IBP, and then working for a construction company. He drove trucks on job sites.

"I drove a dump truck, water truck, semi, roll boy and a yuke," says Bellinger.

He did it all one handed, just like he does now.

"Sometimes I lift my leg up like this and keep it nice and tight, and then I'll shift to another gear, but my arm is always on here."

Now he works for his sister. She started Dieckman Trucking after losing her job when the economy tanked.

"I lost my job at Bandag because the jobs went south so, I thought I would go ahead and start a trucking company and help my brother out with a job because was looking for a job as well," says owner Megan Dieckman.

Her company delivers golf sand, pig iron, and lime. To drive for her, Bellinger needed a special certificate from the government. He applied for one and passed the test, although he says he never received anything in the mail. So he's been driving for his sister, always thinking he was completely legal.

"That's what I thought, until I got this paper," says Bellinger.

The government is revoking his certificate and denying his renewal application because Bellinger's required to drive an automatic transmission truck and wear a prosthesis for his right arm. He's done neither.

"Because I still have my original arm, so I don't understand why I would need a prosthetic arm, because I don't have a need for one, and even with a prosthetic you can't hang on to the steering wheel with a prosthetic arm," says Bellinger.

He points out his doctor wrote "no prosthetic needed" on both of his physicals. His sister says she can't afford to buy a replacement truck without a stick shift. The government says unless Bellinger does those two things, he can't safely drive.

"The truck driver must be medically qualified to not only drive the vehicle safely, but also to do pre and post trip safety inspections, secure the load and make sure it has not shifted. In the interest of public safety, CMV drivers are held to higher physical, mental and emotional standards than passenger car drivers," said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in a statement to TV-6.

Simply stated, the government says driving a truck one handed puts everyone at risk and the government has the final say. Bellinger says that's not fair.

"As long as I feel comfortable with myself driving, and I know I'm not out there to hurt anybody else, why are they trying to take this away from me?"

He's been ticketed twice by Iowa cops.

"I've been driving no problem, I mean I got pulled over twice, one overweight, one for not having a three cluster light on it, but other than that, nobody has ever said anything to me," says Bellinger.

His right arm has never come up. Iowa DOT Captain John McQuoid says Bellinger's only other legal option is driving only in Iowa. State law allows some exceptions for truck drivers to drive without the special certificate.

"You can see how some people might look at this and go, that seems dangerous?" asked TV-6 Investigates.

"Yeah because they're not used to doing things one handed, and that's the biggest thing it is, nobody is used to doing things one handed like me," says Bellinger.

His ability to adapt versus the government's safety concerns. Bellinger will have to choose which route is easier to keep driving.

Bellinger is looking into the cost of a prosthesis for his right arm.

He's also looking into taking legal action against the government.

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