Truck Drivers Being Pushed Beyond Their Limits to Drive Excessively Long Hours
Truck Driver Who Pled Guilty to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated
Vehicle Assault Sentenced to Five Years Sending a Strong Message to Truck Drivers
Arlington, VA (January 12, 2012): The truck driver behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck who had fallen asleep and crashed into the back of the Slattery family car resulting in the death of Susan Slattery and serious injuries to her and her husband Ed Slattery’s two sons was sentenced today in the Portage County Court House of Portage County, Ohio. He was charged by a grand jury with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicle assault to which he pled guilty. The judge sentenced him to five years sending a strong message to truck drivers that they will be held responsible for their actions and decisions on the road.
Ed Slattery responded to the news, “While nothing can bring back my wife or restore my sons’ complete health, I want people – the motoring public and truck drivers alike – to know that our roadways are not as safe as we believe them to be. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just issued a rule allowing truck drivers to drive 11 hours a day and up to 70 hours per week, and truck driver fatigue is an industry-wide health crisis. In a recent survey almost half of truck drivers (48%) admit that they have actually fallen asleep while driving during the previous year, and 65% of truckers report that they are often or sometimes drowsy.” Slattery continued, “I want truck drivers to know that when they are pushed to surpass these already excessive driving hours, they – and not the companies – may personally wind up paying the price of jail time, or even worse. Truck drivers deserve the same protections provided to airline pilots. It makes absolutely no sense that our government has created a safety hierarchy of sorts where truck drivers fall to the bottom. This system is driving truckers and surrounding motorists to our graves.”
The Slattery family crash occurred on August 16, 2010 around 11:45 a.m. near the 190-mile marker on the Ohio Turnpike in Streetsboro. Susan Slattery was one of the 3,675 people killed in truck crashes in 2010. This number of deaths was an increase of 8.7% from 2009 and was contrary to the decrease in overall motor vehicle crash fatalities which went down to its lowest level since 1949.
“Truck drivers are paid by the mile which results in a financial incentive to drive as fast and as far as they can,” stated John Lannen, Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director. “The DOT issued this inadequate hours of service (HOS) rule and still has not required electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all trucks and buses. They are perpetuating an unsafe work environment for truck drivers and endangering all those on the roads.”
Studies show that truck crash risk increases exponentially after 8 consecutive hours of driving and the highest level of crash risk occurs during both the 10th and 11th hours of consecutive driving. Decreasing truck driver’s HOS by one hour would limit the time they are on the road during this period of highest crash risk.
Slattery concluded, “This is not a happy day for my family and we feel badly for the truck driver and his family but responsibility must be taken for the crash. What happened to my family is clear and compelling proof of why the HOS rule must be changed and what the real costs of fatigue in the trucking industry are. The truck driver HOS rule must be based on scientific studies, not the financial desires of the trucking industry. While the trucking industry may claim that reducing the HOS to 10 consecutive hours would negatively impact their bottom line, I want to point out that it would produce more than $2 billion a year in crash, injury and health cost savings. My family’s crash alone cost millions and health care costs for the rest of my son Matthew’s life are estimated at beyond $18 million. Our lives will never be the same but I will continue to work to reduce truck driver fatigue so that another family will not have to suffer the tremendous loss that my family lives with every single day.”