Indiana State Rep. Dan Forestal – Restore Truck Inspectors

In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes in the United States

Indiana State Rep. Dan Forestal – Restore Truck Inspectors


Ind. lawmaker: Restore truck inspectors

Kara Kenney, Staff

A state lawmaker is pushing to restore funding for state motor carrier inspectors laid off because of budget cuts.

Rep. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, wrote a Sept.18 letter asking the Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions to study the issue at an upcoming meeting.

“We are not providing the State Police inspectors adequate resources and staffing levels to do their job effectively,” read the letter. “In 2012, Indiana State Police found over 6,000 trucks with mechanical failures so dangerous that they were immediately taken off the road.”

Forestal raised concerns in response to a Call 6 Investigation that found thousands of trucks rolling down Indiana’s busiest roads are in poor condition, making them dangerous to other motorists.

“According to the Motor Truck Association, a million trucks pass through Indiana every day meaning there is only one inspector for every 13,000 trucks on the road,” read the letter.

As the Call 6 Investigators have reported, in 2008, about 86 troopers and inspectors were dedicated to daily truck mechanical inspections statewide, according to Indiana State Police. The agency currently has 72 troopers and inspectors dedicated to the task.

In December 2009, the state laid off 42 motor carrier inspectors due to budget constraints.

“Do we as a State feel 72 inspectors are sufficient to keep Hoosiers safe on our roadways?” read the letter.

Forestal’s letter also cited an Orange County Indiana crash from this summer where a trash truck’s wheels fell off, injuring a woman.

The trash truck had never received a state inspection.

“In hiring more inspectors, we can help eliminate common and dangerous problems with trucks, such as unsafe tires or brake issues,” Forestal said.

Forestal said he has asked the chair of the transportation committee, Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, to include the inspector issue on the agenda, but has not been successful.

Rep. Soliday gave us this statement:

“I have spoken to my democratic counterpart regarding this issue several times. I have assured him that this is an issue that is currently being addressed, not through the committee process at this time but through the administration. They are currently in the process of pursuing a solution to this problem, and looking more deeply into this issue. With a lifetime spent addressing the issue of public safety, I take concerns like these very seriously — but as any legislative issue that is voted on in the General Assembly — it must be properly vetted. The appropriate way to handle the request of study, undertaken by any committee, is to submit a petition to the bipartisan Legislative Council. Without the background research and examination completed, we would be at a vast disadvantage to move forward. Laws don’t get passed with hopes and dreams. They get passed with hard work — and that is something that I am working on with the administration and welcome my colleague to spend his time calling State Police in working to resolve this issue as well.”

The committee is scheduled to meet on Sept. 26 and Oct. 15.

Forestal estimated the cost of rehiring 14 inspectors at $400,000.

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TSC Advocates Urge Our New Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx To Make Changes Now.

anthonyfoxx-janemathis-johnlannenLast week, volunteer Truck Safety Coalition advocates traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with the new Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, formerly Mayor of Charlotte, NC.  Jane Mathis (St. Augustine, FL), Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC), Marianne Karth (Rocky Mount, NC), and Jackie Novak (Edneyville, NC), along with other truck safety advocates, brought their message of vital truck safety issues directly to the new Secretary.

anthonyfoxx-jennifertierney-jeffburnsJennifer Tierney, North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator for the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), board member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and a member of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) stated, “We appreciate the Department of Transportation’s continued commitment to safety and encourage them to stay the course. Despite the congressionally mandated truck size and weight study being conducted by the DOT right now, we are seeing a perpetual push for truck weight increases. It is more important than ever that we act on improvements to truck safety now. Bigger, heavier trucks make every truck crash more dangerous, and truck safety issues even more vital.”  Tierney urged the Department to support retaining the 1995 legislated freeze on longer combination vehicles (LCVs) and the current federal size and weight limits and oppose any special interest exemptions to truck size and weight limits.

Manthonyfoxx-mariannekartharianne Karth lost her daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in May of this year in an underride truck crash.  Karth asked that the Department issue a long-overdue higher standard for rear underride guards and for side guards on motor carriers in order to prevent more families from losing loved ones, stating that research has already proven that improved rear underride guards should be required.  “If it had been done sooner, I might not have been at this meeting today,” said Karth.

anthonyfoxx-jackienovakJackie Novak, whose son Chuck, and Chuck’s girlfriend Theresa Seaver were killed in a truck crash in 2010 which claimed the lives of three others and injured several more, added, “After the crash that killed Chuck, we quickly learned that the trucking company’s insurance would not be able to cover all of the costs of those injured in the crash, and provide for the families of those killed. The requirements for insurance for motor carriers are so tremendously inadequate when compared to the capacity for damages caused by a truck crash. It’s unfathomable why minimum insurance levels have not been increased in over thirty years.  The Secretary of Transportation has the authority to adjust the minimum insurance levels and we implore him to exercise that authority. In fact, at our meeting with Senator Burr he also expressed his support of the Secretary increasing minimum insurance requirements.”

Jane Mathis, board member for Parents Against Tired Truckers and a member of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) concluded, “It’s been over a year since Congress approved the mandate for electronic logging devices (ELD’s) on all commercial vehicles, and every day we continue to wait for the rule, we miss an opportunity to save lives and prevent injuries. We appreciated the time Secretary Foxx spent with our group, and his assurance that within a short period of time we will see tangible progress on the truck safety issues we raised during the meeting.”

 Download Press Release Here (PDF)