This week, it was announced during the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) that John Lannen, Executive Director, Truck Safety Coalition, has been appointed to serve as Vice-Chair of MCSAC after serving as a committee member for the past four years. Congratulations to John, and best wishes in his new role at MCSAC.
Highway safety groups released survey results conducted by Lake Research Partners showing overwhelming public opposition, 80 percent, to Congress raising the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week.
You can see the full results here.
New Survey Shows Strong Public Opposition to Longer Truck Driver Working Hours
CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088, firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington, D.C. (October 16, 2014) – Highway safety groups today released the results of a survey conducted by Lake Research Partners demonstrating overwhelming public opposition, 80%, to Congress raising the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week. This issue was recently brought to public attention after a semi-truck driver crashed into a limobus injuring Tracy Morgan and killing James McNair. The poll was commissioned to gauge public views on this issue after a Senate committee approved legislation that would change current federal law to increase truck drivers’ work week from 70 to 82 hours and take away the two-day weekend. Survey results available: www.saferoads.org and www.trucksafety.org.
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Congressman James McGovern (D-MA) joined Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates); John Lannen, Executive Director, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC); Joshua Ulibarri, Partner, Lake Research Partners; Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH); James Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Daphne Izer, Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT); and Linda Wilburn, Board Member, PATT, on a media call with reactions to survey results.
Advocates’ President Jackie Gillan, stated, “This survey reveals a clear disconnect between what the public wants and what special trucking interests want from Congress at the expense of public safety for everyone. We urge Congress to reject this anti-safety change and heed the public’s correct assessment of the dangers.”
When Congress returns to the Capitol, debate will resume on annual spending bills for federal agencies including the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development FY 2015 Appropriations bill. The Senate version, S. 2438, includes a rider, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which will substantially increase truck driver hours of service, if enacted. An amendment to strike the increase, sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and others, is pending in the Senate.
TSC’s Executive Director John Lannen remarked, “Truck driver fatigue has been identified as a major safety problem and leading factor of fatal truck crashes by the National Transportation Safety Board. Increasing truck driver work hours would be a deadly setback for safety.”
From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 people injured in 2012, and fatalities increased by 16 percent, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.
INDUSTRY MAKES IMPROVEMENTS WHILE RULE FOR BETTER UNDERRIDE LANGUISHES
IIHS Report Shows Trailer Manufacturer Improved Rear Underride Guard Design
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 9, 2014) – Today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a new report showing improvements in underride guard safety adopted by a trailer manufacturer in advance of rulemaking. Less than three months after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a grant of petition for rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the safety of underride guards, on trailers and single-unit trucks, the IIHS report states trailer manufacturers are making underride guard improvements and are expected to ask for retesting, while NHTSA continues to work on a new standard. Truck safety advocates are heartened by the industry’s initiative, noting that further improvements should be made to ensure that all manufacturers’ rear underride guards pass the 30 percent overlap test. To date, IIHS reports this test has been passed by only one trailer manufacturer, Manac.
Marianne Karth, a Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Volunteer, whose “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition helped to spur NHTSA’s decision to begin underride guard rulemaking said, “All trailers should have underride guards that withstand the 30 percent overlap test. We should not settle for less when safer guards are known and available.” Karth and her family started their petition that gained over 11,000 supporters after losing daughters AnnaLeah and Mary, in May 2013, in an underride truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son.
“I am glad that advances are being made by the industry. Having advocated for better underride guards for over thirty years, I can personally testify that it takes far too long to produce a requirement for lifesaving safety improvements,” said Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator, and Member, FMCSA, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), after losing her father in an underride crash.
During 2011, NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 19 percent of the fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles, and that large truck side impacts comprised 15 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles. On July 10, 2014, NHTSA announced plans to issue two separate notices for underride guards that have not yet been fulfilled. One is an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on single-unit trucks and the other is a notice of proposed rulemaking focusing on trailers and semitrailers. NHTSA also indicated that they will research front and side guards for rulemaking.
Tierney added, “In addition to rear underride, the IIHS report notes that 63 percent of fatal truck crashes involve the front of the truck, and that in Europe, front underride guards (also called front override guards) have been required since 1994. It’s past time for us to address improvements to all types of underride including front, side and rear.”
Nancy Meuleners, TSC Minnesota Volunteer Coordinator, barely survived an underride crash that left her permanently disfigured. Meuleners, who has worked to advance underride guard safety for decades said, “NHTSA has the power to greatly reduce the needless loss and suffering that result from underride crashes, and I hope that they will act quickly to start rulemaking. I am glad that individual manufacturers are making improvements, but we really need a new underride guard rule, as well as side and front guard rules, to set a higher standard across the industry.”
The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.
On October 4, 2014, The New York Times published an editorial in support of ending the delays in issuing the long overdue “common-sense training standards for truck drivers.”
The editorial cites the large number of deaths that involve large trucks, approximately 4,000 people each year, for the urgency of issuing a rule for truck driver training.
A disproportionate number of highway fatalities involve large trucks, yet current federal standards are grievously lax. To get a commercial license to operate a big rig, drivers are only required to receive 10 hours of classroom lectures, pass a written test and take a brief road test. While some also receive hours of supervised behind-the-wheel training, many do not.
Last month, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, filed a lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court to order Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, to issue minimum entry-level training requirements. If the lawsuit is successful, rulemaking should occur within 60 days of the Court’s order and a final rule should occur 120 days thereafter. Although, as the editorial states,
It should not require a court order to persuade Mr. Foxx to do what should have been done more than 20 years ago.
Two of our volunteers are now featured in two recent articles published by Bloomberg News. In these articles, Marianne Karth and Ed Slattery, speak out about their personal experiences on living after a tragedy.
After Marianne lost two of her daughters, AnnaLeah and Mary, in a truck crash last year, she turned her pain into advocacy. Marianne started a petition directed at Secretary Foxx that accrued over 11,000 signatures. The petition urges the Department of Transportation Secretary to address the truck safety issues that could have helped prevent the truck crash that killed her daughters. In the petition, Marianne asks him to (1) raise the minimum levels of insurance required for truck drivers, (2) decrease driver fatigue and monitor their hours on the road with Electronic Logging Devices, and (3) take needed steps to improve underride guards.
Karth turned to Facebook, created her own website and sent more than 11,000 petitions to pressure U.S. regulators, including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a bid to force safer trucking practices and equipment.
Speaking about her advocacy work, Marianne told Bloomberg News,
If there’s anything I can do to help prevent some other family from having to go through the same thing, then it’s worth it.
Ed’s wife, Susan, was killed and son, Matthew, was permanently injured in a truck crash. According to the article,
Matthew is making slow and steady progress, yet will always need care.
The Truck driver responsible for the crash has since lost his job and was sentenced to prison, after admitting to falling asleep while driving. Much of Ed’s story involves conflict with the driver, and as the article states,
Their combined experiences add up to a tale of loss, forgiveness and denial that is still evolving.
At the heart of this story, however, is Ed’s relationship with his son. Speaking about Matthew, Ed tells Bloomberg News,
I love him so much it hurts.