Joint Statement on Tracy Morgan Settlement

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

Joint Statement on Tracy Morgan Settlement

Advocates.Crash.PATT

JOINT STATEMENT OF

JACKIE GILLAN, PRESIDENT OF ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY,

JOAN CLAYBROOK, CHAIR OF CITIZENS FOR RELIABLE AND SAFE HIGHWAYS,

AND DAPHNE IZER, FOUNDER OF PARENTS AGAINST TIRED TRUCKERS

ON

TRACY MORGAN SETTLEMENT ON CRASH INVOLVING TIRED TRUCKER REACHED AS CONGRESS POISED TO PASS ASSAULT ON TRUCK SAFETY LAWS

As the one-year anniversary approaches of the horrific truck crash involving a tired trucker behind the wheel of a Walmart truck which hit and killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan and two others, Congress is poised to launch an all-out assault on truck safety by passing a federal spending law that guts and rolls back several lifesaving laws. Recent news stories indicate that Walmart and the crash victims including Tracy Morgan have reached a financial settlement.

Despite alarming increases in truck crash deaths and injuries since 2009, some members of Congress are pushing a legislative overhaul of lifesaving truck safety laws and rules in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill at the request of influential industry executives. The House of Representatives will take up this bill for floor debate next week. So-called “riders” in the federal spending bill will force every state to allow extra-long trucks pulling double 33 foot tractor trailers throughout the country, dramatically increase working and driving hours for truck drivers to 82 hours a week, carve out exemptions to federal truck size and weight laws, and stop a public rulemaking reviewing minimum insurance coverage for trucks and passenger carrying buses.

“Unfortunately, crashes like this one involving a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel will continue to kill and maim innocent families if Congress continues to pander to the wishes of special trucking interests. The House is taking up a federal transportation spending bill next week that will result in oversized and overweight trucks on our roads driven by overworked and overtired truckers. Public opinion polls are clear and convincing. By large majorities the public does not support any of these changes being pushed by special interests behind closed doors,” said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Truck crash fatalities have gone up by 17% and injuries by 28% over the last four years. Every day about 10 people die in truck crashes and 275 more are injured. Every year an average of 4,000 people needlessly die in truck crashes and 100,000 more are injured. Commercial motor vehicle crashes have a price tag of $99 billion annually. The economic and emotional costs to families and our economy are staggering. Yet, instead of advancing public safety, proposals are now being considered in Congress advancing industry profits,” said Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Carter Administration.

The House spending bill for the Department of Transportation includes the FedEx plan to force every state to allow extra-long, dangerous trucks pulling double 33 foot trailers.  Another provision will extend the dramatic increase in the weekly working and driving hours of truck drivers by taking away their weekend off allowing them to work 82 hours a week.  This change was championed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) last year. There are also truck size and weight exemptions for states that dramatically exceed current limits.  Finally, trucking interests are trying to stop an on-going and public agency rulemaking to review and determine if insurance requirements set in 1985 are adequate for motor carriers including trucks and passenger carrying buses.

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), who lost her son Jeff in a crash caused by a Walmart driver who fell asleep at the wheel said, “Truck drivers are being pushed beyond physical and mental limits to work up to 82 hours a week, more than double the average work week of most Americans. And, truck crash fatalities are on the rise. Yet, ignoring these sobering facts, Congress seems dead-set on putting more tired truckers on the road. This will jeopardize their lives and the lives of our family members. Backroom deals to gut effective and needed truck safety laws will only benefit trucking interests and not families like mine.”

Izer continued, “We need Congress and the Obama Administration to stand up for innocent motorists and truck drivers. The Tracy Morgan crash anniversary should serve as a reminder that 4,000 people being killed in truck crashes and 100,000 more being injured is not acceptable. If Congress prevails then President Obama should veto this bill and not lose any sleep over putting the safety of our families first and not giving a ‘free pass’ to trucking industry interests to plow over current safety laws.”

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Contact: Beth Weaver 301-814-4088 or beth_weaver@verizon.net

 

Out-of-state big rigs wrecking on Kentucky’s roads

Out-of-state big rigs wrecking on Kentucky’s roads

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – A truck driver facing a reckless homicide charge after a fatal collision on I-64 is the latest example of out-of-state truck drivers involved in crashes on Kentucky roads…

See more: http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/303808271.html

A Foolish Attempt to Weaken Truck Safety

From the New York Times:

The trucking industry is again pushing Congress to allow bigger and heavier trucks with overworked drivers behind the wheel onto the country’s roads.

Republican lawmakers have attached a long industry wish list to an appropriations bill that will be voted on by the House in the coming weeks. It includes provisions that would allow trucks to carry longer trailers across the country, make it harder for the Department of Transportation to require drivers get more rest before they hit the road and forbid the department from raising the minimum insurance it requires trucks and buses to carry. The insurance levels have been in effect since 1985.

Trucking companies seem to have been emboldened by their success last year in getting Congress to temporarily suspend parts of a Transportation Department regulation meant to give truck drivers at least 34 hours of rest. That rule was meant to ensure that truck drivers got at least two consecutive nights of rest after working 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days. The industry had complained — wrongly in our view — that the rule, which went into effect in July 2013, “exacerbates congestion” and could make highways less safe by forcing more truck drivers onto the roads during morning rush hours.

Read the full article here.

Letter to Senate on Anti-Truck Safety Measures

May 21, 2015

Dear Senator:

Within the last 48 hours, seven people were killed in two fiery truck crashes involving a FedEx double-trailer truck in Kentucky, and a possible tired truck driver in Georgia. We urge you to look at these crash photos and think about what the victims’ families are going through as you deliberate on the transportation funding bill.

http://www.wkyt.com/wymt/home/headlines/I-75-South-in-Rockcastle-County-shut-down-due-to-tractor-trailer-crash-304281461.html

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/5-dead-another-crash-interstate-near-savannah/nmKhF/

These crashes are a precursor to the Memorial Day weekend kickoff of the beginning of summer in the United States. It is a time of family fun and also a time of increased travel on our roads and highways. However for our families, summer vacations and road trips will never be the same because of a void in our lives. All of us have shared the tragedy of having a daughter, a son, a mother, a father, a niece, a nephew or a friend needlessly killed in a truck crash.

Unfortunately, it is expected that approximately 1,300 people will be killed and an additional 30,000 will be injured in large truck crashes over the summer months of June, July and August. Truck crash deaths and injuries have been steadily and significantly rising since 2009, even as overall motor vehicle deaths have declined. We are writing to urge you to work with us and support our efforts to advance truck safety, and not condemn families like ours to the emotional and economic toll of truck crashes that will surely increase if the anti-safety riders in the House version of the FY2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill become law.

These anti-safety “riders,” for corporate trucking interests are nothing more than an assault on the safety of our families and truck drivers. We urge you to oppose including any of these provisions in the Senate THUD bill.

June 7th will mark the one year anniversary of the tragic crash that seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend James McNair, which was caused by a Walmart truck driver who dozed off behind the wheel.  Shortly thereafter, Congress responded by enacting a measure sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) dramatically increasing the working and driving hours of truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue continues to be a major problem in the trucking industry and will not be solved by allowing truck drivers to work as many as 82 hours a week and taking away their two nights off to rest. We urge you to let the Hours of Service study, required by the Collins Amendment enacted last year, to be completed and to consider its findings before taking further action.

On April 17, 2014, a large FedEx truck pulling two 28-foot trailers crashed into a motorcoach carrying students to visit Humboldt State University in Northern California killing 10 people, including five students and injuring many more. Now, Congress is responding by considering a giveaway to FedEx and others that will preempt states and force longer and heavier FedEx trucks on our local streets and highways. Under the FedEx rider a double trailer truck pulling two 33-foot trailers will be at least 84 feet long and exceed the size of an eight story office building. A triple-trailer truck will be over 110-feet long and more than twice the length of a 53-foot single-trailer truck on the road today. Allowing even longer trucks will compound the problem, resulting in more crashes, deaths and injuries, and costing more in terms of highway congestion and crash-related cleanup costs after an accident has taken place.

Furthermore, minimum levels of insurance for motor carriers have not been increased in 35 years and are woefully insufficient. Yet, some segments of the trucking industry seek to block funding for the ongoing public rulemaking process to review minimum insurance requirements for truck carriers and passenger-carrying motorcoach companies. When a serious crash occurs, the underinsured segments of the motor carrier industry force families like ours to shoulder the economic burden and subsidize unsafe practices using our personal savings or with taxpayer-supported programs such as Medicaid and Social Security.

Lastly, “earmarks” for certain states or roads to evade federal limits on truck size and weight destroy the fabric of our nation’s interstate system and degrades our highways and bridges. Giving one state a deadly “hall pass” encourages others to get in line and demand theirs as well.

Public opinion supports the views of our families. Numerous polls show that large majorities, regardless of age, sex, political affiliation, income level, or state of residence, do not want to share the road with bigger and heavier trucks and do not support increasing the working and driving hours of truckers. We strongly urge you to please put public safety ahead of trucking industry profits and reject these anti-truck safety provisions.

Steve and Susan Owings
Atlanta, GA
Co-founders of Road Safe America
Steve is current member of MCSAC
and its immediate-past Chairman
Parents of S. Cullum Owings
Killed in a truck crash 12/1/2002

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

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

Roy Crawford
Whiteburg, KY
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Father of Guy Champy Crawford
Killed in a truck crash 1/12/94

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

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

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

Ed Slattery
Lutherville, MD
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Husband of Susan Slattery
Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10
Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured

Kate Brown
Gurnee, IL
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Member, Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee
Mother of Graham Brown
Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

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

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

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

Nancy Meuleners
Bloomington, MN
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

Jackie Novak
Edneyville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

Bruce King
Davisburg, MI
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son-in-law of Bill Badger
Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

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

Gary Wilburn
Weatherford, OK
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Father of Orbie Wilburn
Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

Melissa Gouge
Washington, D.C.
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Cousin of Amy Corbin
Killed in a truck crash 8/18/97

Scott Harper
Belmont, MA
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son of Mimi Harper
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/11

Grace Prince
Sandersville, GA
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Rita Rose
Killed in a truck crash 4/12/10

Julie Branon Magnan
South Burlington, VT
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Injured in a truck crash 01/31/02
Wife of David Magnan
Killed in a truck crash 01/31/02

TSC Letter to Secretary Foxx on House THUD Appropriations Bill

May 11, 2015

The Honorable Anthony Foxx
Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:
We commend your commitment to highway and auto safety as well as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) FY 2016 budget request to address serious safety problems facing our nation. You have repeatedly stated in public meetings and congressional hearings that while our nation has made important progress in reducing our highway mortality toll, 32,719 deaths in 2013 are still unacceptable. Even one death is too many for the families and friends of a loved one needlessly killed. As family members who have lost our loved ones in large truck crashes, and other concerned North Carolina citizens, we completely agree and support your position.

Unfortunately, while overall motor vehicle fatalities have decreased the past five years, the same cannot be said about truck crash fatalities. In fact, there has been a serious and unabated rise in truck crash deaths and injuries. From 2009 to 2013, there was a 17 percent increase in truck crash deaths and a 28 percent increase in injuries. Yet, in Congress, right now, there is a full-scale assault on truck safety by special trucking interests and their allies. We haven’t seen anything this egregious, with its blatant disregard for safety, in the past 25 years.

Rollbacks to lifesaving truck safety laws and regulations are already included in the DOT Appropriations bill being considered on Wednesday in the House Committee on Appropriations. We expect the trucking industry will also try to include these anti-truck safety measures in the transportation spending bill in the U.S. Senate. If these measures are enacted into law, the public will be sharing the roads with overweight and oversized trucks driven by overtired and overworked truck drivers. There is no question that these provisions will result in more deaths, more injuries, more destruction and more damage to our nation’s already crumbling infrastructure.
Public opinion polls consistently show strong opposition to bigger, heavier, and longer trucks as well as increasing the federal limits on the working and driving hours of truck drivers.

The overall government FY 2015 spending bill enacted by Congress last December included several anti-truck safety provisions that became law when President Obama signed H.R. 83 (P. L. 113-235). Most notably, an amendment sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) allows truck drivers to increase their weekly working and driving hours from 70 to 82, and eliminates their required “weekend” off. DOT’s own data shows that alarmingly high levels of truck drivers are driving while fatigued, and nearly half have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel.

The FY 2016 DOT House Appropriations bill currently contains a trucking industry “wish list” of safety repeals that put trucking productivity ahead of public safety. These include the FedEx proposal to overturn the law in 39 states and force every state to allow “Double 33s” on federal and local roads. These are extra-long trucks exceeding 84 feet in length pulling two 33-foot-long trailers. Furthermore, the bill continues the “Tired Truckers” pilot program putting truck drivers and the public at unacceptable risk of death and injury due to driver fatigue, a well-documented and widespread problem in the trucking industry. There are also provisions allowing specific states to increase maximum truck weights by 50 percent or more above current federal limits and to increase truck length up to 100 feet or more.

The House Appropriations bill also contains a provision that would remove the funding for the rulemaking on minimum insurance for motor carriers. Set over 35 years ago at $750,000, the minimum insurance for motor carriers has not been raised since. All too many times this amount is insufficient for all the deaths, injuries and property damage a truck crash can leave in its wake. This appropriations bill, by banning any insurance increases, only shifts responsibility for these crashes onto the American public. When minimum insurance is not high enough to cover long-term health care for a crash survivor, or to pay for bridge repairs after a crash, taxpayers make up the difference. That survivor will become dependent on social security and/or Medicare, instead of the carrier who caused the damage. The bridge or infrastructure impacted will get fixed, but only when a city or state foots the bill. We can no longer allow dangerous trucking companies to shift responsibility for their crashes onto the backs of taxpayers.

As our nation’s top transportation official, you are in the position to carry through on your commitment to safety and stop this assault on truck safety by recommending that the President veto any spending bill that includes these safety repeals and rollbacks. Over the past couple years we have witnessed in horror some tragic but preventable truck crashes. Last year, in Orland, California, a FedEx double-trailer truck crashed into a bus transporting high school students and chaperones on a college exploratory trip, killing 10 people and injuring at least 30 more. According to DOT’s website, there have been nearly 2,600 FedEx crashes which have killed almost 90 people in the past two years. Now the company is lobbying for even bigger and even longer trucks on our streets and roads, and have publicly admitted it is to advance productivity and not safety.

In New Jersey, comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a truck crash involving a WalMart driver, who appears to have dozed off and did not stop in a work zone despite traffic ahead. And recently, five Georgia nursing students were tragically killed and two others were injured, when their vehicles were mowed down by a runaway truck. The driver did not even slow down when approaching stopped traffic ahead.

We hope we can count on your leadership and commitment to safety to ensure that this Administration does not sign into law any bill that will jeopardize safety in any way. There can be no moral or political justification for allowing a bill to become law that will result in more crashes, more deaths, more injuries and more grieving families.

Sincerely,

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

Jackie Novak
Edneyville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

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

Sherri Hager
Statesville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

J. Kent Williams
Greensboro, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Marvin and Linda Scherl
Germanton, NC
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Bloomberg: Trucking-Friendly Plan in Congress Decried as Attack on Safety

Trucking-Friendly Plan in Congress Decried as Attack on Safety

May 4, 2015 5:00 AM EDT

http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-05-04/trucking-friendly-plan-in-congress-decried-as-attack-on-safety