2014 Was A Banner Year For Food Spills On Highways

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

2014 Was A Banner Year For Food Spills On Highways

Posted in Food Spin:

Early this morning, a cargo truck overturned on a Detroit highway, scattering boxes of frozen chicken wings across the asphalt, capping off what has been a remarkable year for highway-spill enthusiasts. Let us now stroll down food-spill memory lane. Watch your footing, it might be slippery.

Read more here.

Read Our Letter to Members of Congress Urging them to Vote NO on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

December 10, 2014

Dear Member of Congress,

On behalf of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), the thousands of families who have lost loved ones, and the tens of thousands more who have been injured each year in truck crashes, we are writing to ask you to reject the Collins Rider to increase truck driver hours of service, and anti-safety riders to permit increases in truck weight limits in the states of Kentucky, Mississippi and Wisconsin, by voting NO on the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. These anti-safety riders will degrade highway safety and require expensive infrastructure modifications; and, will eliminate the two nights off-duty for truck drivers to rest, while significantly increasing working and driving hours for truck drivers up to 82 hours a week when fatigue is already a well-known and well-documented highway killer that results in deaths and injuries to innocent highway users and hard-working truck drivers.

None of these special interest riders has been subject to any committee hearings, adequate safety review or cost/benefit analysis.  However, all of them will have a profound impact on highway safety, deaths and injuries. By overwhelming margins in numerous public opinion polls, the American public consistently and convincingly rejects sharing the road with bigger, heavier and longer trucks and increasing truck drivers’ already arduous 70-hour work weeks, no matter the political affiliation, age, sex or geographic location of the respondent.

Truck crashes are a serious, deadly and costly problem to families, our infrastructure, our health care system, and to the economy.  Large truck crashes are on the rise.  In 2012, 3,921 people were killed and 104,000 more were injured. This is equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year. In the past ten years, a total of 44,204 people have been killed and nearly one million people have been injured in crashes involving large trucks. The annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $99 billion.

Our organizations and volunteers strongly oppose these anti-safety riders, and affirm that our families’ lives should not be needlessly jeopardized in order to pass a spending bill. Please vote NO on the Omnibus Bill.

Sincerely,

Joan Claybrook

Chair, CRASH

 

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, ME

Founder, PATT

Mother of Jeff Izer

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

Linda Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Board Member, PATT

Mother of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Larry Liberatore

Severn, MD

Board Member, PATT

Father of Nick Liberatore

Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

 

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, MD

Board Member, PATT

Husband of Susan Slattery (killed)

Father of Matthew & Peter (critically injured)

Truck crash 8/16/10

 

Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of James Mooney

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

 

Tami Friedrich Trakh

Corona, CA

Board Member, CRASH

Sister of Kris Mercurio,

Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio,

Aunt of Brandie Rooker & Anthony Mercurio

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

 

Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, FL

Board Member, PATT

Mother of David Mathis

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in a truck crash 12/23/04

 

John Lannen

Executive Director, TSC

Maryland Truck Crash Victims’ Families Urge Chairwoman Mikulski to Remove Language from Omnibus Provisions to Increase Truck Driver Work Hours

MARYLAND TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES URGE CHAIRWOMAN MIKULSKI TO REMOVE LANGUAGE FROM OMNIBUS PROVISIONS TO INCREASE TRUCK DRIVER WORK HOURS

Eliminating Truck Drivers’ Weekend Off Will Result in Death, Devastation, and Danger on our Roads

WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2014) – Ed Slattery and Larry Liberatore, both Maryland residents who lost loved ones in truck crashes due to truck driver fatigue, sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chair, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) urging the chairwoman to ensure that critical regulations governing truck safety remain in full effect and are not rolled back in the 2015 government spending bill. Two days remain until the deadline to pass a spending bill expires. The letter comes in support of public safety, labor, public health, and consumer groups as well as Administration efforts to ensure that truck drivers receive adequate rest and are not driving fatigued on the nation’s roads and highways.

“As you know from our meetings, letters and emails, truck driver fatigue irrevocably altered our families and left our remaining members afflicted with grief and pain,” the safety advocates and Truck Safety Coalition volunteers wrote. “Larry lost his son, Nick, when a tired trucker carrying a load of steel veered across three lanes, and ran over the car in which Nick was a back seat passenger. Ed lost his wife, Susan, and his sons, Matthew and Peter, were seriously injured when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel of his triple-trailer truck and ran over their family’s car and then burst into flames. Peter was conscious to hear the paramedics declare his mother dead and Matthew suffered permanent traumatic brain injury. Truck driver fatigue crashes are sudden, brutal and unforgiving.”

Special trucking interests are now working with Senator Collins (R-ME) to repeal a truck safety regulation that will result in a significant increase in the working hours of truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours and a reduction in their off-duty rest time. This rider comes despite overwhelming public opposition (80 percent) to raising the number of work hours for truck drivers. In addition, 80 percent of Americans say they would feel less safe if legislation were passed to raise the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week from 70 to 82 hours. Truck driver fatigue is a known major safety problem, and has been for over 70 years. The crash that happened last summer, when comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and his friend, James McNair, was killed on the New Jersey Turnpike by a tired Walmart truck driver, is but one example of the devastation that occurs from fatigue.

The letter continues, “The current hours of service rules governing rest requirements for truck drivers are based on years of study and sound scientific research in addition to a review of public comments. They should remain firmly in place.  In 2012 large trucks were involved in 3,700 accidents with close to 4,000 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. With so many crashes, we should be examining further limitations on hours of service, not suspending the rules currently in place. At the very least, hours of service requirements should not be suspended during further study, but rather maintained until evidence illustrates a change would not pose a threat to public safety.”

Read the full letter here.

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Statements of Joan Claybrook and Daphne Izer On the Collins Rider Rolling Back Rules Limiting Hours of Service for Truck Drivers

Statement of Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safety Highways

On the Collins Rider Rolling Back Rules Limiting Hours of Service for Truck Drivers

December 9, 2014

While the final gavel has not fallen on the omnibus federal funding bill for 2014, tonight’s release of the House version includes the deadly rider sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) which may become law.  Her rider rolls back current federal rules giving truck drivers a reasonable two nights off after 70 hours on duty and replaces it with less rest time and 82 hours of driving and working.

Senator Collins led the assault on behalf of the trucking interests, with no Congressional hearings or scientific studies to support her rider except for the greedy demands of well-heeled corporate lobbyists.  Her proposal completely disregards public opinion which shows that 80 % of the American public opposes longer work hours for truckers.  The public knows the deadly consequences of tired truckers:  more fatigued drivers, more crashes, more deaths, more crippling injuries, and more costs.  Our nation already suffers 4,000 deaths annually and more than 100,000 injuries.   The trucking industry overrode this strong public opposition by cashing in on its financial support to elected officials.

Sen. Collins has now guaranteed that truck driver fatigue will continue to be a growing problem.  Our drivers are being driven to death.

No other transportation sector is responsible for so much death and destruction yet its critical safety rules were targeted for wholesale assault.   It seems you can get away with murder if you are well-heeled trucking industry lobbyists.

Several Members of Congress including Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representatives Nita Lowey (D. NY), and Jim McGovern (D-MA) fought to protect the public and stop the trucking industry onslaught along with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and we commend their efforts.

Statement of Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

In response to the Anti-Truck Safety Rider in the Omnibus bill just released by the House, Endangering All Motorists on America’s Roadways

December 9, 2014

It is shocking that again and again Senator Collins has put the economic interests of the trucking industry before the safety of Maine families and the entire American traveling public.  80% of the American public opposes Congress increasing longer work hours for truck drivers, and yet Senator Collins forges ahead with pushing the corporate agenda.  If my loving son Jeff had been killed in an airplane crash involving a fatigued pilot, Congress would take swift and direct action to improve air traffic safety.  Yet, his death, like so many of the preventable deaths happening each year in crashes involving tired truckers, occurred on just an ordinary day in a small town and did not result in any change in policy protections.  Instead, today Congress responded by turning its back on families like mine and rolling back an important safety rule to prevent overworked and overtired truckers from jeopardizing the safety of everyone. Sen. Collins’s enduring loyalty to corporate trucking interests drove this safety attack and will be a major setback to keep tired truckers off the roads.

Read Maryland Truck Crash Victims’ Families Letter to Chairwoman Mikulski

December 9, 2014

Dear Chairwoman Mikulski:

Thank you again for meeting with us before the mark-up of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) FY 2015 Appropriations bill, S. 2438, on June 5, 2014, to discuss our serious concerns about Senator Collins’ amendment to change the current federal truck driver hours of service limit. We find it unconscionable that this dangerous rider is now being considered for inclusion in the Omnibus spending bill. This rider has not been the subject of any congressional hearings, undergone any comprehensive safety review or analysis by experts, or been part of an open rulemaking process for the public to provide our views and concerns.

As you know from our meetings, letters and emails, truck driver fatigue irrevocably altered our families and left our remaining members afflicted with grief and pain. Larry lost his son, Nick, when a tired trucker carrying a load of steel veered across three lanes, and ran over the car in which Nick was a back seat passenger. Ed lost his wife, Susan, and his sons, Matthew and Peter, were seriously injured when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel of his triple-trailer truck and ran over their family’s car and then burst into flames. Peter was conscious to hear the paramedics declare his mother dead and Matthew suffered permanent traumatic brain injury. Truck driver fatigue crashes are sudden, brutal and unforgiving.

As a nation, we cannot continue to pay the high cost of commercial motor vehicle crashes that are estimated at over $99 billion each year. As a society, we cannot continue to experience the loss of 4,000 lives and 100,000 people injured in preventable truck crashes every year. Given the known dangers of truck driver fatigue, the abundant scientific evidence that supports the current hours of service limit, and the significant and lengthy decade-long process to ensure the veracity of the hours of service rule and to engage all stakeholders, Congress should not be considering any change that would suddenly alter this rule and exacerbate truck driver fatigue leading to more deaths and injuries.

When we met with you before the bill mark-up and took photos together, we were touched by your sincere expression of sympathy for our losses. Our losses should not have to be felt by other families nor should you have to console another Maryland family because of a fatigue-related truck crash. Now is the time to act to ensure that we do not roll back safety to the previous low standard set during the Bush administration years.

We urge you to stop this dangerous rider in its tracks, and we will stand together with you to protect our Maryland families and families across the nation.

Sincerely,

Larry Liberatore

Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Severn, Maryland

 

Ed Slattery

Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Lutherville, Maryland

 

Senators Blumenthal and Booker Urge Leader Reid to Prevent Longer Hours for Truck Drivers

For Immediate Release:

December 8, 2014

Contact: Josh Zembik (Blumenthal) – 202-224-6452

Josh_Zembik@blumenthal.senate.gov

Monique Waters (Booker) – 202-224-8150

Monique_Waters@booker.senate.gov

BLUMENTHAL, BOOKER URGE MAJORITY LEADER REID TO REMOVE FROM OMNIBUS PROVISIONS THAT ROLL BACK REGULATIONS GOVERNING TRUCK SAFETY

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, urging the Senate Majority Leader to ensure that critical  regulations governing truck safety remain in full effect and are not rolled back in the 2015 government spending bill, which will likely be on the Senate floor later this week. The letter comes in support of Administration efforts to ensure that truck drivers receive adequate rest and are not driving fatigued on the nation’s roads and highways.

“We are extremely disappointed that despite our grave concerns, this matter is moving forward through the appropriations process, rather than with extensive study and debate,” the senators wrote. “This issue is far too important to have been altered outside of the committee of jurisdiction and without debate by the Senate.

“The current hours of service rules governing rest requirements for truck drivers are based on years of study and sound scientific research in addition to a review of public comments. They should remain firmly in place.  In 2012 large trucks were involved in 3,700 accidents with close to 4,000 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. With so many crashes, we should be examining further limitations on hours of service, not suspending the rules currently in place. At the very least, hours of service requirements should not be suspended during further study, but rather maintained until evidence illustrates a change would not pose a threat to public safety.”

The full text of the letter is below and as a PDF here.

Dear Majority Leader Reid:

We have serious concerns with the suspension of hours of service rules designed to prevent truck driver fatigue in the Fiscal Year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill. The suspension of the rules could force tired truckers to stay on the road for longer periods of time, impairing the safety and wellbeing of the public. This provision should not move forward without further study and debate. We urge you not to include it in the omnibus legislation.

In August, we wrote to Senator Mikulski outlining serious safety concerns and highlighted important testimony from a recent hearing held in the committee of jurisdiction that underscored the dangerous implications of rolling back these critical, life-saving rules. We are extremely disappointed that despite our grave concerns, this matter is moving forward through the appropriations process, rather than with extensive study and debate.  This issue is far too important to have been altered outside of the committee of jurisdiction and without debate by the Senate.

The current hours of service rules governing rest requirements for truck drivers are based on years of study and sound scientific research in addition to a review of public comments.  They should remain firmly in place.  In 2012 large trucks were involved in 3,700 accidents with close to 4,000 fatalities and 104,000 injuries. With so many crashes, we should be examining further limitations on hours of service, not suspending the rules currently in place.  At the very least, hours of service requirements should not be suspended during further study, but rather maintained until evidence illustrates a change would not pose a threat to public safety.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and former Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne Ferro, have both stated the current rules enhance safety and there is no data or evidence to support suspending the rules. It is estimated that the current hours of service rules can prevent 1,400 crashes, 19 fatalities and 500 injuries each year.

Some in the industry, however, seem more interested in the profits that come with drivers working longer hours than with the safety benefits that come from ensuring truck drivers receive adequate rest.

America’s truck drivers work long grueling hours to deliver goods across the nation.  They are a vital part of our economy, and we owe it to these workers and the people driving on our roads to ensure that fact-based science-driven policies are in place, rather than throwing out the rules to put profits over safety.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. If there is any further compromise that can be reached to protect individuals from needless accidents, injuries and fatalities, we urge you to give it due consideration.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal                                                               Cory A. Booker

United States Senator                                                            United States Senator

 

Truck Crash Victims and Labor and Safety Groups Urge Congress to Put Public Safety Before Industry Profit

Eliminating Truck Drivers’ Weekend Off Will Result in Death, Devastation and Danger on our Roads

 WASHINGTON, DC (Monday, December 8, 2014) – Today, families of truck crash victims and labor and safety groups joined U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) on Capitol Hill to urge Congress to stop a special interest anti-safety provision being considered in the omnibus spending bill.  This provision being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) would be a major change to federal truck safety regulations and dramatically increase the number of working and driving hours for truck drivers as well as repeal their two-day weekend off.

 Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), said, “Christmas is still a few weeks away but Senator Collins already is working to wrap up and deliver an expensive gift for her trucking industry allies.  She is trying to quietly slip language into the omnibus spending bill that will put trucking industry profits ahead of public safety.  Her proposal will allow trucking industry executives to force truck drivers to get behind the wheel and work for more than 80 hours a week, double the 40-hour work week of most Americans.  Unfortunately, this gift to industry will be paid for by the families across the country and tired truckers who will be put at unreasonable and unacceptable risk of death and injury on our highways.”

 Teamsters Director of Federal Legislation and Regulation, Fred P. McLuckie, said,  “As our General President Jim Hoffa aptly stated last week, Senator Collins should not be trying to use the Omnibus as a testing ground for policies that denigrate highway safety and put all the traveling public at greater risk.”

 A recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners shows that the public understands this industry-wide problem of fatigue and the dangers it poses to motorists. This survey found overwhelming public opposition (80%) to Congress raising the number of hours a semi-truck driver is allowed to work in a week. The American public convincingly rejects increasing work and driving hours for truck drivers no matter the political affiliation, age, sex or geographic location of the respondent.

 Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated, “The Collins proposal to gut a key truck safety rule has not been the subject of a single House or Senate congressional hearing, undergone any comprehensive safety review or analysis by experts, or been part of an open rulemaking process for the public to provide their views and concerns.  In sharp contrast, the deal-making is happening behind closed doors as Congress rushes to finish up legislative business.  Let’s be clear.  The American public opposes it as well as truck crash victims, safety and labor groups, law enforcement and the Secretary of Transportation doesn’t want it. We urge Congress to stop this assault on safety.”

 Daphne Izer, of Maine and a founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) stated, “It’s outrageous that the Senator from my home state would try to attach this language to a must-pass spending bill. I’m also personally offended by Senator Collins’s attack on Secretary Foxx for sending a letter to Congress urging retention of the evidence and research-based current rule. Secretary Foxx’s objections are consistent with the DOT’s mission to reduce fatalities and injuries and protect the driving public.”  Izer’s 17-year-old son Jeff and three of his friends were killed on October 10, 1993, when a Walmart truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel.

 Ron Wood, whose mother Betsy, sister Lisa and her three children, Chance (age 4), Brock (age 2) and Reid (6 weeks old), were killed near Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic, said, “I urge our Members of Congress to support their constituents, and prevent the dangerous Collins Amendment from progressing any further. A fatigue-related truck crash happens in a second. Grief and loss last a lifetime.”

Download/Print PDF

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088
beth_weaver@verizon.net or
Cathy Chase, 571-243-7282
cchase@saferoads.org

Read Joan Claybrook’s Statement in Response to the American Trucking Associations (ATA)

Statement of Joan Claybrook, Chair and

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves is trying to bamboozle the American public into thinking that big rigs driven by overtired and overworked truck drivers is really safer for everyone.  Fortunately, the American public isn’t buying it.  A recent public opinion poll conducted by the well-respected Lake Research Partners shows that 80% of the public strongly opposes allowing truck drivers to work and drive up to 82 hours a week.  It’s not surprising that large margins of the American public also believe it will make our roads less safe.

Mr. Graves also makes the phony claim that the provision being pushed by Senator Collins (R-ME) benefiting corporate trucking interests is not being added to the funding bill at the11th hour.    Here are the facts.  There has not been a single congressional oversight hearing in either the House or Senate on making this dangerous and deadly change to current law.  There has not been any comprehensive safety review and analysis by experts.  And, there has not been an open rulemaking process for the public and others to express their views and voice their concerns.  Transparency is what is expected in a democracy when the public’s interests are put ahead of the interests of well-heeled and well-connected industry lobbyists.

This is not a new tactic for Senator Collins and the ATA.  Five years ago Senator Collins was responsible for a one-year exemption for Maine from federal truck limits allowing 100,000 pound trucks throughout the state.  The year after the exemption ended, Senator Collins came back and pushed through a twenty-year exemption.  Once again, Senator Collins and the ATA are using the same “playbook”.  We urge Congress to stop this unconscionable and dangerous deal-making at the expense and peril of the American public.

Finally, the rebuttal offered up by Mr. Graves is an analysis by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).  ATRI is the research arm of the ATA located at the exact same address as the trucking industry trade association and whose board is comprised of industry executives.  This is hardly an objective, conflict-free, or credible scientific analysis on the impacts of gutting an important existing safety rule.

We will continue to fight the enactment of this anti-safety proposal.  This proposal will make our highways more dangerous and that’s why every major public health, consumer, safety and law enforcement group and the families who have lost loved ones in truck crashes oppose the Collins Amendment.  The end result of this David versus Goliath battle against the “who’s who list” of corporate America will have a profound and lasting impact on the safety of our roads.  We urge Congress to put public safety before industry profit.