Bethel city manager plans crack down on city truck drivers

Bethel water truck.
Bethel water truck. (Photo by Anna Rose McArthur/KYUK)

Bethel city water trucks get more than their fair share of abuse, but after an incident that left a brand new water truck tipped on its side, the Bethel City Manager decided to change the accident policy to give city truck drivers who are found to be negligent tickets and drug tests.

It’s pretty common to hear about water and sewer trucks crashing into things in Bethel. They’re huge vehicles driving on tiny, often slick roads.

But Bethel City Manager Pete Williams said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that it is more than city roads that are the problem in these accidents. He should know; Williams was a truck driver.

“I drove truck for 20 years, and I would never have been a truck driver if I went through all the accidents I see out there,” Williams said.

He says the high number of accidents in Bethel has to change, and he has a plan on how to make that happen.

“We’re gonna kinda take a different approach to how to deal with these when they happen. We’re gonna sit the driver down, take a drug test,” Williams said.

Federal law requires drug tests after major accidents, but the ones the City Manager is focusing on are minor ones that are not covered under federal law. What Williams wants to do is reduce the kind of bumping and scraping that has become common in the Bethel fleet.

Earlier this year, the city received new water trucks costing $250,000 each after the previous City Manager secured funding for them. Williams says that the latest accident was unacceptable.

“Running into houses, these aren’t incidences, these accidents, and you should get a ticket. We might lose some drivers, but we just can’t continue the way we’ve been going on this,” Williams said.

Losing drivers could mean a slowdown in water and sewer service until new drivers are found. Drivers are drug tested before they are allowed to drive for the city, but until now, they haven’t usually retested for drug use unless they are in a major accident.

KYUK - Bethel

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