Media Advisory: Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

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

Media Advisory: Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088

beth_weaver@verizon.net or

Cathy Chase, 571-243-7282

cchase@saferoads.org

UPDATE: Battle Over Truck Driver Hours of Service Law Reaching Peak

12/5: Sen. Collins Issues Statement Saying U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx’s Letter is “Inaccurate” and “Inflammatory”

12/6: ATA President and CEO Graves Issues Statement Saying Obama Administration Doesn’t Understand the Consequences of Its Rule; Safety Groups Using “Deceptive Tactics”, “Outright Lies”, “Falsehoods” and “Half-Truths”

12/6: Parents Against Tired Truckers Founder Daphne Izer Sends Letter to Sen. Collins Defending Sec. Foxx for Putting Safety First

12/6: Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Chair Joan Claybrook Issues Statement Highlighting Provision Being Pushed Through Without Any Hearings, Safety Reviews or Analysis in Final Hours of Session

12/8: Press Conference

Every Minute and a Half, a Large Truck Crash Occurs

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

Public Will Pay with Their Lives and Wallets if Trucking Industry “Wish List” Becomes Law

WHEN:           Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. EST

WHERE:        U.S. Capitol, House Visitor Center room 215

WHAT:           Congress is Considering a Major Change to Federal Regulations that Will Dramatically Increase the Number of Hours a Semi-Truck Driver is Allowed to Work in a Week from 70 to 82 Hours.  Only 6 months ago comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a horrific crash caused by a fatigued truck driver.  U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter urging Congress to reject this change.

This special interest rider is being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to be included in the overall government funding bill being negotiated before Congress adjourns.  There have been no Congressional hearings and no safety reviews.  Also, there has been no Senate debate or vote on the amendment to strip the anti-safety provision sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and numerous Senators.* Safety groups and truck crash victims sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leaders urging them to stop assaults on truck safety and a letter to Secretary Foxx urging recommendation of a presidential veto if anti-safety provisions are included.

WHO:             U.S. Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME), Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Daphne lost her 17-year-old son Jeff on October 10, 1993, when a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel. Jeff and three of his friends were killed, and another was seriously injured.  She is a recipient of the 2014 White House Champions of Change award.

Ron Wood (Washington, D.C.) On September 20, 2004, Ron’s 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.  The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.

BACKGROUND:      

  • Truck driver fatigue and Hours of Service compliance has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
  • Adoption of Sen. Collins’ provision will revert the HOS rule to the one in effect when a 2006 survey of truck drivers found an alarming 65% of truck drivers reported they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep while driving in the previous year.(Truck Driver Fatigue Management Survey, FMCSA, 2006).
  • Truck crashes are on the rise.  From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by a staggering 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 people injured in 2012.  During this same period, truck crash fatalities increased three years in a row, a cumulative 16 percent increase, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes result in a cost of $99 Billion to the U.S. every year.
  • The current Hours of Service rule issued by U.S. DOT took effect last year after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and trucking industry associations; 6 public listening sessions and an online Q&A forum; review of 80 sources of scientific research and data; a Regulatory Impact Analysis of nearly 50 scientific sources.
  • The current rule allows truckers to take a short rest period of just 34 hours off-duty before beginning a new work week, which can include up to 60 or 70 hours of driving. The “Collins amendment” will suspend the safety requirements that prevent drivers from taking back-to-back short rest periods after long weeks, and require two periods of rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., dramatically increasing allowable driving hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week.

*Sponsors of “Booker Amendment” to retain current 34-Hour Restart Provision: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

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Read Daphne Izer’s Letter in Response to Senator Collins’ Deadly and Dangerous Provision to Increase Working Hours for Truck Drivers

Dear Senator Collins,

I am personally offended by your attack on Secretary Foxx for sending a letter on Friday to House and Senate Members stating his objections to your deadly and dangerous provision to significantly increase the allowable working and driving hours of truck drivers.  Your response on Friday, released through your spokesperson Kevin Kelley, was that the letter was “inflammatory.”  What is inflammatory is that I have been meeting with your staff and writing to you for many years about the problems of truck safety nationally and in Maine.  You have only responded to the needs of the trucking industry and not to the needs of families like mine and the thousands of others who have had loved ones killed every year because of overworked and overtired truck drivers.

My teenage son Jeff and three of his friends needlessly died in a preventable truck crash when a Walmart driver fell asleep at the wheel.  Truck driver fatigue has been recognized for decades by the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal government and confirmed in scientific studies as a major safety problem and factor in truck crashes.  Yet, despite the evidence and the thousands of innocent deaths you still push the industry’s agenda to require even more weekly, monthly and annual hours of working and driving.  Since Jeff’s death there have been other tragic fatigue related truck crashes in Maine, such as the death of five-year-old Liam Mahaney, when a 104,000 pound logging truck crashed onto the Mahaney family’s lawn, overturned, and spilled its load into their house. The truck driver had fallen asleep, and as a result, Christina and Gary Mahaney suffered serious injuries, but Liam was killed instantly.

Secretary Foxx has often stated that safety is his highest priority.  He demonstrated that by writing a letter to the Senate and House Members objecting to your proposal to gut a key safety feature of the current rule on truck driver hours of service.  I stand with Secretary Foxx and all of the other public health and safety groups, law enforcement, and other parents who have also had to bury their children because of truck crashes involving fatigue and commend him for speaking out for all of us.

Sincerely,

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, Maine

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer

PRESS RELEASE: Truck Crash Survivors and Victims Urge Congress to Stop Assault on Truck Safety

Contact: Beth Weaver 301.814.4088,/beth_weaver@verizon.net

Congress Poised to Increase Truck Driver Hours of Service

In Aftermath of Tracy Morgan Truck Crash

Truck Crash Victims & Survivors, Public Health & Safety Groups and Truck Drivers Urge Congress to Stop Assault on Truck Safety in Government Funding Bill

Secretary Foxx Should Recommend Veto if Anti-Safety Strikes Are Taken

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 3, 2014)-Leaders of the nation’s public health and safety, labor, environment and consumer groups together with victims and survivors of truck crashes urged Congressional leaders involved in the negotiations of the funding bill to reject non-related, anti-safety provisions from being included. Crash victims and organizations also pressed the Obama Administration to veto any spending bill that will result in more highway deaths and injuries. Corporate trucking and shipping interests are pushing a long and deadly “wish list” including allowing significant truck weight increases for several states; forcing 39 states to allow longer trailer lengths of 33 feet on streets and highways to benefit FedEx and other trucking companies; and, rolling back the current hours of service limits for truck drivers by eliminating the two-day weekend off-duty for truck drivers to rest. The industry-backed proposal will increase the current working and driving hours of truck drivers from 70 to 82 hours a week and greatly contribute to fatigued truck drivers.

With only 8 days before funding expires to keep the federal government open, truck crash victims and survivors and organizations also sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx urging him to recommend a presidential veto of any funding bill that includes anti-truck safety, special interest exemptions to federal safety laws and rules. Enactment of any of these anti-safety measures will have a profound and lasting impact on highway safety, deaths and injuries for years to come.

Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), stated, “President Obama took a bold stance objecting to legislation being negotiated to extend expiring tax breaks for well-connected corporations while neglecting working families. Similarly, we urge the White House to reject any funding bill that puts greedy special interest exemptions for well-connected corporate trucking and shipping interests before the safety of millions of innocent American families and truck drivers on our streets and highways every day.”

“The Omnibus should not be a testing ground for policies that denigrate highway safety and further deteriorate our crumbling infrastructure,” said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President.

Jackie Gillan, president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated, “These special interest riders have not been subject to any committee hearings or adequate safety review and are being decided by Congress behind closed doors. Public opinion polls clearly and consistently show that Americans do not want to share the road with bigger and longer trucks driven by overworked and overtired truckers. The American public will pay with their lives and their wallets if Congress gives in to the anti-safety agenda of trucking interests.”

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, nearly 4,000 people were killed and 104,000 more were injured. The annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $99 Billion.

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), added, “The number of people killed in truck crashes is equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year. Congress should not be listening to well-heeled and well-connected trucking executives who want to push truck drivers to work 82 hours in a week. Truck driver fatigue is a major serious threat to everyone on the road. My teenage son was needlessly killed by a Walmart driver who fell asleep at the wheel. I am shocked that this proposal to eliminate the two-day weekend off-duty for truck drivers to rest is being seriously considered by Congress in the aftermath of the horrific crash that seriously injured Tracy Morgan and killed James McNair.”

Read the Letter to Secretary Foxx.

Read the Letter to Leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

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FMCSA Steps Closer to Correcting Insufficient Minimum Insurance Requirements for Motor Carriers

FMCSA STEPS CLOSER TO CORRECTING INSUFFICIENT MINIMUM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR MOTOR CARRIERS

Truck Crash Survivors and Families of Truck Crash Victims Support Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Urge FMCSA to Ensure that Truck Crash Damages are Adequately Addressed

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 2, 2014) – On Friday, November 28, 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued an advanced noticed of proposed rulemaking to evaluate options for increasing the level of minimum insurance requirements and for future rulemaking. Minimum insurance is the absolute bare minimum amount of insurance coverage that trucks are required to carry in order to operate, and should adequately cover the damages resulting from a truck crash. Minimum insurance on motor carriers has not been revised for over 30 years since it was set at $750,000 for carriers of property. Increases to minimum insurance for 30 years of medical care inflation are necessary and long overdue. Current minimum insurance levels for motor carriers frequently fail to adequately cover the property damage and human costs caused by truck crashes.  As a result, private citizens are forced to unfairly subsidize motor carriers that comply with federal rules yet still lack sufficient insurance coverage. Last week’s step toward rulemaking follows decades of truck safety advocacy by families who have been personally impacted as a result of insufficient minimum insurance requirements.

Kate Brown, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) Illinois Volunteer Coordinator and Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee (ISFAC) member after her son Graham was permanently, partially disabled in a 2005 truck crash said, “Our families’ losses are two-fold.  First, we are forced to bear the costs of a lifetime of grief and suffering when loved ones are needlessly killed and endure debilitating injuries. Second, we are forced to assume a tremendous financial burden that drains our savings and threatens our financial security.”  Brown added, “Graham’s medical bills exceeded the carrier’s insurance within the first couple of months of his hospitalization. Our personal savings and retirement accounts were sacrificed to get him the care he needed.”

Minimum insurance requirements should be increased immediately to compensate for 30 years of medical care cost inflation. Additionally, the minimum insurance level should be reassessed on a yearly basis to ensure that it is fulfilling its intention. Truck crashes have the capacity to inflict catastrophic damages on multiple victims and families. Motor carriers should be required to carry adequate insurance per claimant, rather than per crash so that each person involved in the crash has access to sufficient resources in order to cover the loss of their loved ones, their medical expenses, loss of income and loss of property.

Jackie Novak, TSC Volunteer, said, “Some segments of the motor carrier industry choose not to have sufficient insurance to cover all of their damages caused in a crash. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is aware of the gap between insurance coverage and costs, and has been exceedingly slow to issue a rule to close the gap. Every day that they fail to do so is an unconscionable burden on our families.”

Novak’s son, Charles “Chuck” Novak, and his girlfriend, Theresa Seaver, were killed in a 2010 truck crash that claimed the lives of three others. A total of 15 were killed or injured in that crash. Novak added, “The motor carrier that caused the crash only held a $1 million policy, slightly higher than the minimum now required under federal rule.”

Marianne Karth, a TSC Volunteer, after losing her daughters AnnaLeah and Mary in a 2013 truck crash that also injured Marianne and her son, launched the “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up For Truck Safety” petition. The Karth family gained more than 11,000 supporters seeking to improve truck safety and specifically to raise minimum insurance level requirements. The Karths delivered the petition to the U.S. DOT in May 2014.

Karth said, “We urge the FMCSA to heed the groundswell of support to increase minimum insurance levels that is evident in our petition. Act expediently! Thirty years of insufficient coverage is long enough. Families that pay such a high emotional price should not be forced to also bear the financial burden for their loss from a truck crash.”

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