The Long Haul: One Year of Solitude on America’s Highways

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

Good year for truck-safety laws – Daphne Izer Lewiston Sun LTE

As this year comes to end, I look forward to the future wherein roads and bridges are safer than they would have been, if not for the dedication and hard work of the Truck Safety Coalition’s (which PATT is a part of) vast network of volunteers.

Equipped with facts and driven by the desire to ensure that others do not have to endure the same grief we did, our organization successfully opposed corporate handouts, like double 33-foot tractor trailers, from being included in the omnibus bill.

The notion that increasing the length of double trailers from 28-feet per trailer to 33-feet per trailer would be safer was premised on the argument that longer trucks will result in fewer trucks. Looking back at the history of truck size and weight increases, however, it becomes clear that the promise of fewer trucks has never come to fruition. Additionally, those longer trucks would have been more difficult to operate due to longer stopping distances and wider turns; and more difficult for motorists to maneuver around due to larger blind spots.

Congress listened to the public and rejected that earmark. It reinforces the fact that advocating to make trucking safer, in the wake of my son, Jeff, and his friends being killed in a large truck crash, is not for naught.

Moving forward, I hope Congressmen will not use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect public safety should be subject to open debate, research and analysis.

Daphne Izer, Lisbon

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Link to LTE: http://www.sunjournal.com/news/letters/2015/12/26/good-year-truck-safety-laws/1841781

Daphne Izer Letter to the Editor in Bangor Daily News

Truck safety distortions

Mark Rosenker distorted the facts about the safety of double 33s in a Dec. 8 BDN letter to the editor. The former National Transportation Safety Board chairman is now an adviser to the Coalition for Efficient and Reliable Trucking, a group that consists of large corporations that stand to make massive profits if these longer, less safe trucks are allowed on our roads.

Rosenker avoids noting that data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study showed that lengthening double tractor-trailers from 28-feet to 33-feet will result in a six-foot wider turning radius and 22-foot longer stopping distance.

He also ignores the fact that double 33s would replace many of the existing single 53-foot trailers. According to the Truckload Carriers Association, there would be significant diversion within trucking as, in the past, shippers will not support equipment that does not meet the maximum size allowed.

Moreover, pushing for these longer trucks would exacerbate what the trucking industry’s claims is a major problem — insufficient parking for trucks. Adding a minimum of 10 extra feet will actually reduce the amount of useable parking spaces.

In referencing “years of testing” in Alberta, Canada, on double 33s, Rosenker, again, fails to paint a full picture. John Woodrooffe, referenced by Rosenker, attributed much of the good safety performance of longer trucks to the fact that Alberta has among the strictest driver, carrier and vehicle regulations.

Overall, it is disheartening that Rosenker, once the head of a safety agency, has become a peddler of privately-funded pseudoscience.

Daphne Izer

Founder

Parents Against Tired Truckers

Lisbon

Link to Letter to the Editor: http://bangordailynews.com/2015/12/22/opinion/letters/wednesday-dec-23-2015-balloon-pollution-dont-celebrate-mccarthyism-truck-safety-distortions/

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

ARLINGTON, VA (December 16, 2015) – The United States Congress today released an omnibus spending bill that includes the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations legislation, H.R. 2577.

The Truck Safety Coalition worked closely with a coalition of survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, first responders, truck drivers, trucking companies, and safety advocacy groups to have 33-foot double tractor-trailers removed from the legislation. We hope to continue working with these groups to address missed opportunities to improve truck safety going forward.

We want to especially thank Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership, and the hard work of their staffs, in our fight against these longer, less safe trucks.

We successfully advocated for the exclusion of a measure hindering a rulemaking to determine the adequacy of minimum insurance for motor carriers. The minimum financial requirement has not been raised in over 35 years, and is woefully inadequate. Congress should not be using overly burdensome study requirements to stop attempts to evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility.

While we are disappointed that the Collins rider affecting hours of service (HOS) was included in the omnibus, we will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about the dangers of tired truckers. Requiring a truck driver to work up to 82 hours per week will only cause more fatigue related truck crashes, and, in turn, more injuries and deaths. Rather than acquiescing to industry demands, Congress should be making data-driven decisions. We hope that the release of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule will help law enforcement isolate bad actors and help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obtain better data on truck driver fatigue.

Moving forward, we hope that Members of Congress will no longer try to use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect the safety and wellbeing of the public should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

Overall, the Truck Safety Coalition welcomes the improvements made to the THUD component of the omnibus spending bill, and will continue to work to improve the HOS rules.

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After Decades of Advocacy Truck Safety Coalition Welcomes FMCSA Release of Final Rule Requiring Electronic Logging Devices in Large Trucks

After Decades of Advocacy Truck Safety Coalition Welcomes FMCSA Release of Final Rule

Requiring Electronic Logging Devices in Large Trucks

Arlington, VA (December 10, 2015): The Truck Safety Coalition today welcomed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) release of a Final Rule requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in all interstate trucks as a long overdue, but much needed advancement in truck safety.

Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “After advocating for nearly a quarter of a century, after our son Jeff was killed by a tired trucker, Steve and I are elated that the FMCSA has issued this rule that will reduce the deaths and injuries resulting from fatigue-related truck crashes and will hold the trucking industry to a higher standard of safety. We are confident that the realization of one of PATT’s primary goals will ensure that our roads will be safer from the dangers of fatigued truck drivers.”

Izer continued, “This technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. Also, the rule will protect truck drivers from harassment and coercion to exceed the hours they are allowed to operate. ELDs automatically record driving time, thereby removing the ability of truck drivers to circumvent compliance by simply writing down false hours. It is absurd that certain segments of the industry fought so hard to hold on to this archaic business practice from 1938. While this Final Rule is a testament to more than 20 years of successful advocacy to reduce truck driver fatigue, it is bittersweet. While we find solace in knowing that this ELD Final Rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from large truck crashes, we wish that we did not have to wait so long to prevail.”

Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition, which is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and PATT, also lauded the FMCSA for issuing the ELD Final Rule: “The inclusion of ELDs in large trucks is beneficial for everyone who travels on our nation’s road and bridges. Motorist and truckers will be safer as this technology will limit the ability of truck drivers to exceed Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, in turn, reducing the likelihood that big rig drivers will become fatigued while driving. Had this technology been in place back in 2004, I would have been able to celebrate at least one more Christmas with my Dad, who was killed by a fatigued driver just days before the holiday.”

“Additionally, this will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS restrictions and expedite the process of reviewing a truck driver’s logbook,” King said. “The shift from paperwork to electronic logging will not only save time, but money too – the FMCSA estimates that this rule will result in a benefit or more than $1 billion. While we are pleased with the many benefits that will come along with the implementation of this rule, I would be remiss not to mention our disappointment with the exemption to this rule for trucks built before model year 2000. There should be no exemptions to this life-saving, cost-reducing technology.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition added, “We are pleased the ELD Final Rule has been issued, and we look forward to the full implementation by the year 2017. Though this was a major win in fighting truck driver fatigue, in order to fully address this fatal problem more must be done, like improving working conditions, screening for sleep apnea, requiring fewer hours behind the wheel, addressing parking needs, and restructuring compensation.”

Joint Op-Ed: Allowing Longer Tractor Trailers Will Have Serious Consequences

BY DAPHNE IZER, JANE MATHIS, DAWN KING AND TAMI FRIEDRICH TRAKH

Every day families from Michigan, Florida, Maine and California, as well as millions of other Americans drive on our nation’s roads to go to work, vacation, run errands, and come home. Sadly, each year large truck crashes kill nearly 4,000 people and injure another 100,000 people before they reach their destination. Each of us of became involved with the Truck Safety Coalition in order to make trucking safer so that another daughter, mother, or sister did not have to endure the sudden and overwhelming grief that accompanies losing a loved one in a large truck crash.

Congress has a real opportunity to reverse the worsening truck crash death and injury trends and to protect public safety. Our elected officials can start by taking out provisions from the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that mandate Double 33 foot tractor-trailers throughout our country and allow truck drivers to work upwards of 80 hours per week. These proposals are industry earmarks that do nothing to advance safety, and, if enacted, will actually degrade safety.

Increasing the length of double tractor trailers from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet per trailer will result in longer vehicles that are up to 91 feet in length. Statistics show that Double 33s have a six-foot wider turning radius, a 33 percent increase in low-speed off-tracking, and a 22-foot longer stopping distance than existing double tractor trailers. In short, these longer trucks are harder to operate and will make merging and passing more difficult for truck drivers and other motorists. If anything, Congress should conduct a more in-depth study on the safety of Double 33s before mandating them on our roads and bridges. The American public wants our Senators and Representatives to make data-driven decisions, not hazardous experiments that endanger us in order to pander to moneyed interests.

Increasing the hours of service for truck drivers is another prime example of a policy proposal that puts the interests of businesses before the safety of individuals. Truck driver fatigue is a major safety concern and contributing factor to fatal truck crashes. Congress should be doing more to address this problem. Unfortunately, Senator Collins has included language that reduces a truck driver’s weekend and increases their work week from 70 hours to 82 hours. Permitting truck drivers to work for up to 82 hours per week, by removing the two night requirement and one restart per week limit, will push tired truck drivers to continue operating and putting lives at risk.

Congress should stop and consider the consequences of passing legislation that is riddled with corporate handouts. Failure to change the direction our country is heading with regards to truck safety will result in more than 20,000 people being killed and nearly 500,000 people being injured in truck crashes in the next five years. These numbers are staggering, but we know from our own experiences that it just takes the death of one pe

 

Daphne Izer,

Lisbon, ME

Founder, Parents Against Tired

Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer,

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, Florida

Vice President, TSC

Board Member, Member, Motor Carrier

Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)

Mother of David Mathis ,

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn

Mathis,

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, Michigan

President, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC)

Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and

Safe Highways (CRASH)

Daughter of Bill Badger,

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Tami Friedrich Trakh

Corona, California

Board Member, CRASH

Member, MCSAC

Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of

Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker

and Anthony Mercurio,

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

Link to op-ed: http://www.timesrecord.com/news/2015-12-04/Opinion/Allowing_Longer_Tractor_Trailers_Will_Have_Serious.html

Laurie Higginbotham Letter to the Editor: Truck Safety is a Must

The notion that Congress should be “praised” for a bipartisan effort to pass a multiyear highway spending bill is questionable. Doing so is Congress’ job, and, frankly, this bill is the bare minimum. As a mother who lost her son in a truck crash, I would not praise this legislation, which largely ignores safety.

A little more than a year ago, my son, Michael, was killed in a truck crash due to the truck driver’s negligence. If the truck he crashed into had not made an illegal U-turn and was equipped with sideguards, he would likely be alive today. Unfortunately, even after my son’s preventable death, Congress has failed to advance common-sense safety features that would save lives and prevent injuries.

Rather than requiring rear and side underside guards or forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) braking systems on all large trucks, which would benefit everyone on our roads, Congress is pushing through several earmarks that only benefit the trucking industry. Mandating high-risk interstate teen truckers, exempting classes of truck drivers, and limiting the liability of shippers and brokers in their hiring decisions do not enhance safety — they roll it back.

Congress cannot continue to ignore the fact that truck crash fatalities have risen 17 percent nationwide and 37 percent in Tennessee between 2009 and 2013. Passing a bill that would move our country forward on safety would actually be deserving of praise.

Laurie Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Link to Letter: http://www.commercialappeal.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/Letter-Truck-safety-is-a-must-360655461.html

 

Jackie Novak Letter to the Editor: Poor Compensation

On Oct. 24, 2010, in Henderson County, a speeding tractor-trailer crashed into a line of cars stopped on Interstate 26 due to an earlier crash. My son, Chuck Novak, was killed.

The total number of fatalities and injuries in the crash that killed Chuck was 15. The motor carrier that caused the crash only held a $1 million policy, slightly higher than the minimum now required, which was split among five families who lost loved ones and 10 injured, as well as all other parties who had a claim to the settlement, such as emergency responders and the state of North Carolina.

The insurance did not come close to covering medical costs of those injured or providing for surviving families and children, like my grandson.

It is time for Congress to increase the minimum levels of insurance required by trucks so that they can actually cover the costs of crashes like the one that killed my son.

Please ask your representative and senator to raise the minimum level of insurance to cover catastrophic crashes, because no family should have to endure the grief of suddenly losing a loved one as well as financial devastation resulting from the same crash.

Jackie Novak

Hendersonville

Link to Article: http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20151203/OPINION/151209957?tc=ar

$305B highway bill limits teen truckers

The $305 billion highway bill announced by lawmakers on Tuesday limits an effort to lower the minimum age of truck drivers on interstate trips from 21 years of age to 18 to veterans and current military members and reservists.

The 1,300 page measure, which was unveiled days before a Friday deadline for renewing federal transportation funding, eschews a broader proposal to lower the minimum age of all interstate truck drivers in a pilot program that was approved earlier by the House and Senate.

Safety groups praised lawmakers for placing limits on the number of teenage truck drivers that will be allowed on U.S. roads.

“By restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines,” Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director John Lannen said in a statement.

The proposal to lower the minimum age of truck drivers was included in earlier appropriations bills that were approved by the House and Senate, igniting a fight between truck companies and safety groups that revved up as lawmakers were pressing to beat the rapidly approaching Dec. 4 highway funding deadline.

Supporters argued the idea of lower the minimum age for truckers was a modest effort to address a driver shortage that trucking companies have complained has hampered cargo movement in the U.S.

“This amendment would strike a limited pilot program that is authorizing drivers over 19 1/2 to enter into a graduated program to obtain a commercial driver’s license,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said when the proposal was being debated on the House floor in October.

“What’s interesting about the way present law is [written] is that a driver that’s over the age that’s being discussed here can drive all the way across the state of Missouri, for instance, but they can’t drive 10 miles in the city of Kansas City because it’s across state lines,” Graves continued then. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it actually hampers a whole lot of business.”

Truck companies cited a shortage of truck drivers they said has reached 48,000 as they pushed for the minimum age of interstate drivers to be lowered, arguing that older truckers are retiring at a faster clip than younger replacements are coming on line.

“The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” American Trucking Association President and former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves (R) said in a statement about the driver shortage released in the middle of the highway bill debate.

Democrats argued that it is too risky to turn the wheels of big rigs over to teenage drivers, however.

“Ask any parent, they know young drivers do not always listen, even when an experience is in the front seat,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said during the House highway bill debate.

Lawmakers ultimately split the difference, limiting the lower truck driver age limit to veterans and active military members.

The Truck Safety Coalition’s Lannen praised lawmakers for reaching an agreement that “removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures,” though he added that the compromise bill “unfortunately, included some troubling provisions.

“We are extremely thankful to the members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people,” he said. “Their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.”

Link to Article: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/261765-305-highway-bill-limits-teen-truckers-to-veterans-military-members

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

ARLINGTON, VA (December 1, 2015) –The Senate and House Conferees today released a conference report for the surface transportation reauthorization bill, H.R. 22. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, as it is now known, removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures, but unfortunately, included some troubling provisions. We are extremely thankful to the Members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people; their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.

Sections limiting shipper and broker liability in hiring decisions, allowing greater exemptions to hours of service requirements for classes of truck drivers, and prohibiting states from providing further break protections for drivers were ultimately removed from the final bill. These provisions only benefitted private interests at the expense of public safety. We are glad that reason prevailed, and that the Conferees advanced the interests of their constituents rather than the interests of corporations.

Language regarding the minimum level of insurance required by large trucks, crash weighting, and teen truckers was also improved. Conferees removed some of the overly burdensome hurdles that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would have to go through in reviewing the required level of minimum insurance for large trucks. They also decided that any crash weighting determination should be reviewed first by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), before requiring the FMCSA to engage in a costly ineffective review process. Additionally, by restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines.

Regrettably, measures allowing state and industry specific exemptions are still embedded in the bill. Weight exemptions for logging, milk products, and natural gas vehicles will endanger our roads and will set dangerous precedents for future weight exemptions. It is time for Congress to close the backdoor to nationwide weight increase and stop enacting these corporate earmarks.

Other troublesome provisions that remain include hiding Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores from public view and implementing a “beyond compliance” point system into CSA scores. Concealing scores that are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads essentially robs the motoring public of two things: the ability to access data that they paid for and public safety.

Overall, the enhancements to the final bill shows that the Truck Safety Coalition’s concerns were heard, and we are thankful to the Members of Congress and their staffs that listened.

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