Safety Advocates Call on U.S. DOT to Issue Rule Requiring Crash Avoidance Technology for Large Trucks

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

Safety Advocates Call on U.S. DOT to Issue Rule Requiring Crash Avoidance Technology for Large Trucks

For Immediate Release: Contact: Beth Weaver (301) 814-4088 February 18,, 2015 Safety Advocates Call on U.S. DOT to Issue Rule Requiring Crash Avoidance Technology for Large Trucks As Deaths and Injuries from Truck Crashes Continue to Rise, Federal Regulators Must Require Lifesaving Technology in All New Large Trucks WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, the Center for Auto Safety and Road Safe America, filed a petition today with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requesting that the agency initiate rulemaking to require forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking (F-CAM) systems on all new large trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more.

F-CAM technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. F-CAM systems employ a Forward Collision Warning (FCW) to alert a driver when his/her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly in front of his/her vehicle, giving the driver a chance to brake. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, a Collision Mitigation Braking (CMB) system automatically applies the brakes to avoid the crash or reduce its severity. NHTSA estimates that current generation F-CAM systems can prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and future generation systems could prevent over 6,300 crashes annually. However, the agency has not yet decided to move ahead to require this basic crash avoidance technology.

“The safety technology is available to reduce the carnage on America’s roads resulting from rear-end crashes by large trucks,” said Henry Jasny, Senior Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The NHTSA can take action to improve safety and reduce preventable losses by requiring F-CAM technology on all large commercial motor vehicles.”

Truck crashes are a serious public safety threat. Every year on average, over 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured in crashes involving large trucks. Since 2009, the number of fatalities resulting from collisions involving large trucks has risen 16 percent and injuries have increased by 40 percent. The annual cost to society from crashes involving commercial motor vehicles is estimated to be over $99 billion. According to NHTSA data, from 2003-2008, there were 32,000 crashes involving a truck striking the rear of a vehicle resulting in at least 300 fatalities and injuring over 15,000 people annually. However, since 1,600 large trucks are involved in fatal crashes in which the front end of the truck is the initial point of impact, the annual death toll in this crash mode may be far higher than 300 deaths each year. These crashes are precisely the type of collisions that F-CAM technology can prevent.

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition commented, “In work zone areas and when traffic is significantly slowed or at a complete stop, cars are particularly vulnerable to being rear ended by large trucks. Trucks are overrepresented in fatal highway crashes, and they are even more so in fatal work zone crashes. This is why it is imperative that F-CAM technology is required safety equipment in large trucks.”

With total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase by as much as 63 percent by 2040, the need for F-CAM technology has never been greater. While nearly every truck manufacturer currently offers some type of F-CAM system on new vehicles, there is no national standard for F-CAM system performance and not all buyers purchase this safety option. Thus, few trucks are actually equipped with the technology despite its availability. Only 3 percent of the more than 3 million standard tractor-trailers (class 8) on the road today are equipped with some form of this technology.

Steve Owings, Road Safe America Co-Founder and immediate past Chairman of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, lost his son, Cullum, when the car Cullum was driving was barreled into from behind, in stopped traffic, by a tractor-trailer. That big-rig’s driver was speeding 8 mph over the posted speed limit using cruise control and didn’t touch his brakes until his truck was within 100 feet of the stopped traffic. “There is little doubt that Cullum would still be alive today if only that truck had F-CAM technology,” Owings said.

Judith Williams, of Merrillville, Indiana, whose daughters, Lindsey and Yvette Williams, grandchildren, Yazmin and Arielle Goldman and Jamin and Jazmin Osborne, and brother, Amado Mangual, were all killed in a truck crash last year in Jasper County, Indiana, stated, “I was devastated after I learned technology already exists that could have prevented my family’s crash.” The crash that killed Judith’s family occurred when a truck rear-ended their SUV in slowed traffic approaching a work zone area. Judith continued, “I know nothing I do will bring back my loved ones, but I will work to ensure that no one else has to go through the tremendous loss and heartache my family and I must cope with for the rest of our lives.”

Federal regulatory action has previously expedited the installation of critical vehicle safety advances, such as airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems, by requiring these safety systems as standard equipment rather than as expensive options. Federal regulation remains the best and swiftest means to ensure the latest safety advances reach the majority of the traveling public.

Jane Mathis, lost her son David and David’s bride of five days, Mary Kathryn, when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel and rear ended their car which was stopped in traffic. Mathis, a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) and a member of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) stated, “David and Mary Kathryn might be alive today if F-CAM had been in use at the time of their crash. Every moment that NHTSA neglects to issue a rule, they miss an opportunity to keep a family whole.”

“Many hundreds of lives could be saved each year if trucks are equipped with automatic braking systems,” said Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety. “The NHTSA should move quickly to require this safety technology on all trucks.”

Read the petition here:

Petition for Rule Making (PDF)

Petition Crash List (PDF)

Press Release (PDF)

While large trucking companies lobby for bigger semitrailers, National Troopers Coalition chairman points to poll showing three of four Americans oppose increases

Minneapolis, Minn.—While major trucking companies lobby Congress to allow longer and heavier semitrailers, a just-released poll found that three of four Americans oppose longer and heavier semitrailer trucks on the highway.

“Speaking on behalf of the over 45,000 members of the National Troopers Coalition, I can tell you that law enforcement officers have known for quite some time that bigger trucks threaten highway safety, and this poll shows that the public knows it, too,” said National Troopers Coalition Chairman Mat Hodapp, a Minnesota state trooper.

The Coalition Against Bigger Trucks, a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes truck size and weight increases, commissioned the live-operator survey of 1,000 nationwide respondents. The poll was conducted January 5-8, 2015, and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

View the full PDF here


In response to recent misleading allegations made by Werner Enterprises and the American Trucking Associations at a Senate hearing, truck safety victims today sent the attached letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC) who suffered the loss of her father in a truck crash said “It is not only disingenuous, but truly insulting to families like mine who have lost a loved one in a truck crash for the trucking industry to boast about declining rates of truck fatalities. According to NHTSA data, this is the fourth year in a row that truck crash fatalities have actually increased, not decreased—we need to set the record straight.”

Jane Mathis (St. Augustine, FL) who lost her son and daughter in law in a 2004 truck crash, said “The misguided agenda by the ATA and Werner Enterprises of pushing bigger, longer trucks driven by tired truckers will continue to result in more, not less deaths and injuries on our nation’s highways.”


February 6, 2015
The Honorable John Thune, Chairman
The Honorable Bill Nelson, Ranking Member
Committee on Commerce, Science and

The Honorable Deb Fischer, Chairman
Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and
Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Chairman Fischer:

As families who have lost loved ones in truck crashes, we are writing this letter to set the record straight about the current status of truck safety and to respond to the cynical and callous allegations made by Werner Enterprises at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security hearing on January 29, 2015, “Improving the Performance of our Transportation Networks: Stakeholder Perspectives,” and echoed by leaders of the American Trucking Associations (ATA). We respectfully request that our letter be included in the Senate hearing record.

The testimony of Werner Enterprises and recent statements by the ATA claim that truck safety is “improving” because of a meager 1.6% decline in the truck fatality rate in 2013 disregards the growing carnage on our roads and highways caused by big trucks. Unfortunately, a more important statistic measuring truck safety is the actual number of people needlessly killed in truck crashes in 2013. Recent fatality data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) shows that 3,964 people died in big truck crashes in 2013. The reality is that there was no improvement in 2013 because the death toll was higher than in 2012.

Since 2009 truck crash deaths have been steadily climbing while overall motor vehicle crash fatalities have been steadily declining, with the exception of 2012. In fact, from 2009 to 2013 there has been a significant 17% increase in truck crash deaths, or 584 more fatalities. Truck crash deaths on our nation’s highways are equivalent to a major airplane crash every week of the year. The trucking industry’s “high-fiving” because more people are being killed albeit at a slower “rate” should undermine their credibility on this issue and their relentless push in Congress for bigger, longer and more deadly trucks.

Members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee would challenge and reject any assertion by a hearing witness who suggested that even though there were more airplane crashes and more deaths that aviation safety was actually improving because more people, more planes and more air miles were being traveled resulting in a “lower death rate”.

We can assure you that the families and friends who buried 18,755 loved ones killed in preventable truck crashes between 2009 and 2013 do not believe that our highways are safer today because there are more trucks on the roads traveling more miles. And, neither should anyone else.

The trucking industry’s agenda of relentlessly pushing bigger, longer, overweight trucks being driven by overtired truck drivers ignores the current dismal status of truck safety and will result in even more deaths and injuries on our roads. It is unacceptable to us that the growing truck crash death toll is being masked by a statistic that measures miles and vehicles while downplaying the catastrophic loss of nearly 4,000 lives annually and ignoring the profound heartache of our families.


Daphne Izer
Lisbon, ME
Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)
Mother of Jeff Izer
Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

Jennifer Tierney
Kernersville, NC
Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)
Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)
Daughter of James Mooney
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

Dawn King
Davisburg, MI
Board Member, CRASH
Daughter of Bill Badger
Killed in a truck crash 12/23/04

Larry Liberatore
Severn, MD
Board Member, PATT
Father of Nick Liberatore
Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

Linda Wilburn
Weatherford, OK
Board Member, PATT
Mother of Orbie Wilburn
Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

Frank & Marchelle Wood
Falls Church, VA
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of Dana Wood
Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

Jane Mathis
St. Augustine, FL
Board Member, PATT
Member, MCSAC
Mother of David Mathis, Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis
Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

Tami Friedrich Trakh
Corona, CA
Board Member, CRASH
Member, MCSAC
Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker
& Anthony Mercurio
Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

Marianne & Jerry Karth
Rocky Mount, NC
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of AnnaLeah & Mary Karth
Killed in a truck crash 5/4/13

Michelle Novak
Franklinville, NY
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Aunt of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

Ron Wood
Washington, D.C.
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son of Betsy Wood, Brother of Lisa Wood
Martin, Uncle of Chance, Brock, & Reid Martin
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/04

cc: Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation