Statement of TSC Opposing Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act of 2018

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

Statement of TSC Opposing Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act of 2018

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) remains strongly opposed to efforts that will weaken the Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device mandates, including the recently introduced Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act (S.3051). Senators Hoeven and Bennet disguise their legislation as a modest proposal to establish a multi-stakeholder working group to reform U.S. Department of Transportation regulations regarding Hours of Service and Electronic Logging Device rules. In actuality, this bill is nothing more than an attempt to delay the enforcement of the ELD rule until the Secretary proposes regulatory reforms required by the legislation.

TSC is generally supportive of attempts to study an issue or collaborate with other stakeholders, but we reject the notion that doing so must be tethered to the suspension of a safety provision. In coupling the disparate actions – study and suspend – the authors reveal their true intent: remove ELD requirements for truck drivers hauling agricultural commodities because a select few drivers complained about consequences they might face due to their non-compliance.

Both the HOS and ELD mandates underwent rigorous reviews before the DOT finalized them; suspending these provisions for transporters of agricultural commodities, however, did not. In fact, proponents of S.3051 have failed to furnish any proof to back up their claims about adverse effects of the aforementioned regulations on their operations or to show that ag-haulers are any safer or less likely to operate while fatigued than average truck drivers are. This is why we support gathering more data and working with folks across trucking and agriculture to determine opportunities to actually improve safety. But again, this call for more data should not and cannot have a prerequisite of suspending the ELD mandate as we learn more.

We urge Members of Congress to reject this unsafe bill at a time when truck crashes, and the resulting injuries and deaths continue to rise.

 

Letter From TSC Volunteers Opposing S.2938, The Transporting Livestock Across America Safely Act

June 12, 2018

Dear Representative:

The Truck Safety Coalition, and the undersigned survivors and families of truck crash victims, write to express our strong opposition to the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act, or any similar legislative language. Passage of this dangerous bill would effectively eliminate existing hours of service (HOS) requirements for truck drivers transporting livestock and insects in the U.S. at a time when truck crashes are at their highest levels in the past 20 years, and the resulting injuries and deaths, continue to rise. Allowing truck drivers to operate for more than an entire day while remaining in compliance would be a dereliction of your duty to protect the public and outright dangerous.

Driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety issue in trucking for decades and it continues to be a factor in too many fatal truck crashes. Our organization has been at the forefront of educating the public about this deadly problem as well as championing data driven solutions, like electronic logging devices, to address it. We have always allowed research and real-life use to inform our advocacy decisions, which is why we are adamantly against this policy change that is based on anecdotes and assumptions about the transportation of livestock and insects via trucks.

The changes prescribe in the TLAAS Act have not been studied by the appropriate agencies, reviewed by Congress, or commented on by the public. The proposed 300 air-mile radius from the trip origin, exempting livestock and insect haulers from the HOS and ELD mandates; the 15 to 18 hours of permissible driving time, once a driver exits the aforementioned air-mile radius; and the 150 air-mile exemption to HOS and ELD mandates from the point of delivery are all arbitrary. To make matters worse, proponents of this legislation have also failed to provide any justification for this proposal, such as evidence that truck drivers transporting livestock or insects are demonstrably safer than other truck drivers are or that the safety of their operations will significantly improve if Congress grants them further relief from the HOS and ELD regulations.

Another family need not lose a loved one because a truck driver transporting livestock, who would be compliant while driving in excess of 24 hours under this proposal, fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into their vehicle. Another American need not incur injury because a cattle-hauler, who could legally drive 450 air-miles without counting any time towards his daily or weekly limit under this bill, dozed off and drifted into oncoming traffic. Yet, both are more likely to occur if the TLAAS Act becomes law.

We urge Members to reject this reckless legislation and look forward to working with them to advance meaningful safety measures, including a advancing a mandate for automatic emergency braking, finalizing the heavy vehicle speed limiter rule, and passing a bill to require comprehensive underride protections on trucks and trailers. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

President, Truck Safety Coalition (TSC)

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, FL

Vice President, TSC

Board Member, PATT

Mother of David Mathis

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

 

Randall Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of James Mooney

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

 

Morgan Lake

Sunderland, MD

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/13

 

Monica Malarczyk

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/29/15

Son of Ryszard and Anita Malarczyk

Killed in a truck crash 12/29/15

 

Debra Cruz

Harlingen, TX

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 8/8/08

 

Laurie Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Peter Malarczyk

Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/29/15

Son of Ryszard and Anita Malarczyk

Killed in a truck crash 12/29/15

 

Alan Dana

Plattsburgh, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Janet Dana, Uncle of Caitlyn & Lauryn Dana, Brother-in-law of Laurie Dana

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/12

 

Cindy Southern

Cleveland, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of James Whitaker, sister-in-law Anthony Hixon and aunt of Amber Hixon

Killed in a truck crash 9/18/09

 

Beth Badger

Columbus, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Vickie Johnson

Hartwell, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Curt Johnson, Step-mother of Crystal Johnson

Killed in a truck crash 10/1/09

 

Michelle Lemus

Los Angeles, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 4/10/14

 

Marc Johnson

Hartwell, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Brother of Curt Johnson

Killed in truck crash 10/1/09

 

Linda Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Board Member, PATT

Mother of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, MN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

 

Melissa Gouge

Washington, D.C.

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Cousin of Amy Corbin

Killed in a truck crash 8/18/97

 

Marchelle Wood

Falls Church, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Dana Wood

Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

 

Sandra Lance

Chesterfield, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Kristen Belair

Killed in a truck crash 8/26/09

 

Tina Silva

Ontario, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker & Anthony Mercurio

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

 

 

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, ME

Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

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

 

Kate Brown

Gurnee, IL

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Graham Brown

Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

 

Jackie Novak

Hendersonville, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

 

Santiago Calderon

Arcata, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 4/10/14

 

Kim Telep

Harrisburg, PA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Bradley Telep

Killed in a truck crash 8/29/12

 

Larry Liberatore

Severn, MD

Board Member, PATT

Father of Nick Liberatore

Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

 

Warren Huffman

Odessa, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Brother of Tim Huffman

Killed in a truck crash 5/6/13

 

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

 

Steve Izer

Lisbon, ME

Board Member, PATT

Father of Jeff Izer

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

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

 

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, MD

Board Member, PATT

Husband of Susan Slattery

Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10

Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured in a truck crash 8/16/10

 

Amy Fletcher

Perrysburg, OH

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of John Fletcher

Killed in a truck crash 1/24/12

 

Wanda Lindsay

New Braunfels, TX

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of John Lindsay

Killed in a truck crash 5/7/10

 

Michelle Novak

Delevan, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Aunt of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

 

Paul Badger

Davidson, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Tammy Huffman

Odessa, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Sister-in-law of Tim Huffman

Killed in a truck crash 5/6/13

 

Christina Mahaney

Jackman, ME

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/11

Mother of Liam Mahaney

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/11

 

Ashley McMillan

Memphis, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Girlfriend of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash 11/18/14

 

Bruce King

Davisburg, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son-in-law of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Frank Wood

Falls Church, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Dana Wood

Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

ARLINGTON, VA (March 23, 2018) – The United States Congress recently released an omnibus spending bill that includes several unsafe riders that only serve to exacerbate the worsening trends in trucking. With truck crashes continuing to rise, and more and more people incurring injuries and dying because of truck crashes, we urge lawmakers to do the right thing: promote data-driven policies that will actually improve truck safety.

Unfortunately, the legislation includes language that grants New Hampshire a 99,000-lb weight exemption and North Dakota a 129,000-lb weight exemptions – both far in excess of the federal weight limit of 80,000lbs. These state exemptions will not lead to fewer trucks on those states’ roads but rather more states asking for weight-based exemptions in the future and more funding required to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Most importantly, these heavier trucks will greatly increase the crash severity of any potential collision.  

The Truck Safety Coalition is also disappointed that the omnibus legislation includes a section that exempts operators of commercial motor vehicles hauling livestock or insects from a rule requiring the use of an Electronic Logging Device. Considering that livestock haulers are already included in the FMCSA’s interpretation of the 150-air mile exemption to Hours of Service rules for agricultural commodities, there is no justification for even more flexibility to a life-saving rule that underwent extensive study and review. This new exemption will further complicate enforcement efforts, and it is as unnecessary as it is unsafe. Those pushing for this ELD exemption have failed to provide any data to back up their claim that ELD’s adversely affect their operations or that the two years of notice for this rule was insufficient for them to be in compliance by December of 2017.

We hope that Members of Congress will stop trying to use the appropriations process as a back door to include unpopular and unsafe proposals that jeopardize public safety. Such policies, like changes to truck size and weight limits and alterations to HOS regulations, should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

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AP Exclusive: Transport safety rules sidelined under Trump

February 26 at 8:39 AM

WASHINGTON — On a clear, dry June evening in 2015, cars and trucks rolled slowly in a herky-jerky backup ahead of an Interstate 75 construction zone in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Barreling toward them: an 18-ton tractor-trailer going about 80 mph.

Despite multiple signs warning of slow traffic, the driver, with little or no braking, bashed into eight vehicles before coming to a stop about 1½ football fields away. Six people died in the mangled wreck and four more were hurt. The driver was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges last month.

In response to this and similar crashes, the government in 2016 proposed requiring that new heavy trucks have potentially life-saving software that would electronically limit speeds. But now, like many other safety rules in the works before President Donald Trump took office, it has been delayed indefinitely by the Transportation Department as part of a sweeping retreat from regulations that the president says slow the economy.

An Associated Press review of the department’s rulemaking activities in Trump’s first year in office shows at least a dozen safety rules that were under development or already adopted have been repealed, withdrawn, delayed or put on the back burner. In most cases, those rules are opposed by powerful industries. And the political appointees running the agencies that write the rules often come from the industries they regulate.

Meanwhile, there have been no significant new safety rules adopted over the same period.

The sidelined rules would have, among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions. Many of the rules were prompted by tragic events.

“These rules have been written in blood,” said John Risch, national legislative director for the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. “But we’re in a new era now of little-to-no new regulations no matter how beneficial they might be. The focus is what can we repeal and rescind.”

Trump has made reducing regulations a priority, seeing many rules as an unnecessary burden on industry. Last month he tweeted that his administration “has terminated more UNNECESSARY Regulations, in just 12 months, than any other Administration has terminated during their full term in office…”

“The good news is,” he wrote, “THERE IS MUCH MORE TO COME!”

The Transportation Department declined repeated AP requests since November for an on-the-record interview with Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen or another official to discuss safety regulations. Instead, the department provided a brief statement from James Owens, DOT’s deputy general counsel, saying that new administrations typically take a “fresh look” at regulations, including those that are the most costly.

The department’s position has been that it can reduce regulation without undermining safety. And DOT officials have questioned whether some safety regulations actually improve safety.

“We will not finalize a rule simply because it has advanced through preliminary steps,” the statement said. “Even if a rule is ‘one step away,’ if that rule is not justifiable because it harms safety and imposes unnecessarily high economic costs, for example, that rule will not advance.”

But the rule requiring new trucks to have speed-limiting software would actually have economic benefits, according to a DOT estimate prepared two years ago. It would save as many as 498 lives per year and produce a net cost savings to society of $475 million to nearly $5 billion annually depending on the top speed the government picked. That’s nearly half the 1,100 deaths annually in crashes involving heavy trucks on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher. The government didn’t propose a top speed but said it had studied 60, 65 and 68 mph.

The proposal was also expected to solve another problem: Most heavy truck tires aren’t designed to travel over 75 mph, but some states have 80 mph speed limits.

Rick Watts of Morristown, Tennessee, who lost his wife, two young step-daughters and mother-in-law in the I-75 crash, said he can’t understand why the proposal has been sidetracked.

“If you’re going 80 and you’re knocked down to 60, that’s going to lower the impact,” he said. “It just stuns me that you can give these people proof and they say, ‘We’ll look into that.’ It just baffles me that they’re killing so many people every year.”

The American Trucking Associations, an industry trade group, has claimed credit for stalling the rule. After initially supporting it, the group now says it would create dangerous speed differentials between cars and trucks. A news release from the associations said its success in stalling the rule is a significant triumph for the industry.

The trucking industry has developed a strong relationship with Trump. Trucking officials met with Chao within hours after she took office, according to Chris Spear, the trade group’s president. Trump welcomed trucking executives to the White House by climbing behind the wheel of a Mack truck parked on the South Lawn in March.

“Your story is now being told to the highest levels of government,” Spear told his organization’s members in October.

DOT’s position on the speed-limiting software is that it isn’t dead but that the department has limited resources and higher priorities. No action is expected before the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30 at the earliest.

Some rules that were in the works have been abandoned entirely. After four people died when a New York commuter train derailed while speeding around a curve in 2013, investigators determined that the engineer had fallen asleep. He had undiagnosed sleep apnea, a disorder that causes pauses in breathing and prevents restful sleep, and had made no effort to stop the train.

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash in part on federal regulators for not requiring medical screening of engineers for sleep disorders. Yet last summer, DOT withdrew a rule the government was in the early stages of writing to require screening for engineers and truck and bus drivers.

The government said current safety programs either address the problem or it will be addressed in a rulemaking to reduce fatigue risks in the railroad industry. But the fatigue rule is years overdue with no timetable for completion.

The NTSB has cited sleep apnea as a cause of 13 rail and highway accidents it has investigated, including two more commuter train crashes in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2016, and Brooklyn, New York, in 2017.

“Looking at the multiple piles of broken sheet metal and broken engines and broken people, (DOT’s strategy) doesn’t seem to have been effective,” Dr. Nicholas Webster, an NTSB medical officer, told a recent public meeting on the crashes.

But Dan Bosch, regulatory policy director at the conservative American Action Forum, said the Trump administration is “actually taking a very reasoned and measured approach to how they’re de-regulating.”

Most regulations Trump has taken credit for blocking throughout the government were Obama administration proposals that were on track to be adopted but had yet to be finalized, or that weren’t being actively pursued — “low-hanging fruit,” Bosch said.

There is a longstanding requirement that major federal regulations undergo detailed cost-benefit analyses before they can become final. Even rules expected to save lives are weighed against their economic cost. DOT assigns a value of $9.6 million per life saved in its analyses.

Trump has ordered that two regulations be identified for elimination for every significant new regulation issued. The White House has acknowledged its calculations of savings from rolled-back regulations cited in public statements include only the cost to industry and others without taking into account benefits the rules produce, including lives saved.

Rosen, the deputy secretary, heads DOT’s task force that evaluates regulations for repeal or modification. In extensive written and public comments before joining the administration, he criticized regulations as an indirect tax on industry, but made little mention of their benefits. He has called for curbing federal agencies’ regulatory power by imposing greater analytical requirements and requiring congressional approval before more costly regulations become law. Rosen has also advocated making it easier for industry to challenge regulations in court.

Rosen is an attorney who formerly represented General Motors and an airline industry trade group. Other DOT political appointees with strong ties to the industries they regulate include:

—Daniel Elwell, the acting administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, who is a former airline lobbyist.

—Cathy Gautreaux, deputy administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry, spent 29 years as executive director of the Louisiana Motor Transport Association, a trucking advocacy group.

—Ron Batory, the head the Federal Railroad Administration, was president of Conrail, a service provider for the CSX and Norfolk Southern freight railroads.

—Howard Elliott, head of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is a former CSX executive. Among other things, his agency sets safety rules for rail transport of hazardous goods, including crude oil, ethanol and toxic chemicals.

Industry’s influence on regulations generally “is probably more powerful than it has ever been,” said Neil Eisner, who was the DOT assistant general counsel in charge of overseeing the issuing of regulations for more than three decades.

DOT says having industry insiders in leadership positions provides deep practical experience in how the transportation industry works.

In October, DOT published a notice inviting the public to recommend which regulations should be repealed, replaced, suspended, or modified. Accompanying the notice was a list of 20 potential candidates, including 13 of the most significant transportation safety rules of the past decade.

Airlines, automakers, railroads, pipeline operators, trucking companies, chemical manufacturers and others responded to the notice with their wish lists. After the comment period closed, DOT said it would repeal a 2015 rule opposed by freight railroads requiring trains that haul highly flammable crude oil be fitted with advanced braking systems that stop all rail cars simultaneously instead of conventional brakes that stop cars one after the other.

The advanced brakes can reduce the distance and time needed for a train to stop and keep more tank cars on the track in the event of a derailment, DOT said two years ago when it issued the rule.

Freight railroads, which say the rule’s safety benefits are marginal and don’t justify the cost, persuaded Congress to require DOT to revisit the rule. The department now says its revised analysis shows costs would outstrip benefits.

The advanced brakes perform significantly better than conventional brakes alone, but only slightly better in emergency braking situations when trains have locomotives in both the front and the back, said Risch, the union official. But trains are not required to have two locomotives and often don’t, he said.

The advanced brakes also have significant safety benefits DOT didn’t consider, Risch said, including the ability to prevent runaway trains like the improperly secured oil train that derailed in Lac Megantic, Canada, in 2013, igniting a fire that killed 47 people. The advanced brakes are already required for trains that haul radioactive waste.

The rule’s repeal, said Risch, a former engineer who has operated trains with advanced brakes, means the government is abandoning “the greatest safety advancement I’ve witnessed in my 41 years in the industry.”

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal_government/ap-exclusive-transport-safety-rules-sidelined-under-trump/2018/02/26/7693db66-1afa-11e8-98f5-ceecfa8741b6_story.html?utm_term=.25ad1bdc7b1c 

 

TSC Comments on Regulatory Review

These comments are filed jointly by the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and our volunteers, who are the family and friends of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, in response to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT, Department) request for comments on the Department’s review of “its existing regulations and other agency actions to evaluate their continued necessity, determine whether they are crafted effectively to solve current problems, and evaluate whether they potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.”

Our comments will focus on the following regulations and agency actions:

Finalize Rulemakings:

o   Automatic Emergency Braking

o   Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

o   Rear and Side Underride Guards

Fully Implement Final Rules:

o   Electronic Logging Device

o   Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

o   Increasing the Minimum Insurance Levels

o   Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

Modify Rulemakings:

o   Entry Level Driver Training

 

Finalize Rulemakings:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a technology that has been proven, both by companies and other countries, to make roads safer as it can reduce the number of crashes truck drivers are involved in and mitigate the severity of a crash. NHTSA should finalize this rulemaking immediately.

This technology is no longer “new.”  The European Union mandated AEB on large trucks back in 2012, requiring all new trucks to be equipped with it by 2015. In the United States, motor carriers have been using AEB long enough to establish beyond question its effectiveness and reliability.  For example, one trucking company saw their number of rear-end collisions decrease by nearly 80 percent from 2003 to 2015 after equipping their fleet with an active system of collision avoidance and mitigation.

Additionally, Con-way (now a part of XPO Logistics) performed an internal study to determine the extent to which a suite of safety technologies (AEB, electronic stability control (ESC), and lane departure warning) installed on the trucks in its fleet reduced the frequency of various types of collisions.  This study collected data over a 30-month period on approximately 12,600 trucks.  The results were clear and compelling: trucks equipped with the suite of safety systems had a lower crash rate and frequency of engagement in risky driving behavior compared to vehicles without such systems; these trucks exhibited a 71 percent reduction in rear-end collisions and a 63 percent decrease in unsafe following behaviors.

Thousands of American trucks nationwide have been equipped with AEB for nearly a decade, and AEB has been required on large trucks by the European Union since 2012 and it took effect in 2015. In other words, most of the major truck manufacturers have begun including this technology in the trucks that they sell in the European market or in the cars that their company produces.

The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) has stated that they “strongly recommend that all vehicles (light and heavy) be equipped with forward collision warning and mitigation braking technology.”  As you know, rear-end crashes constitute some of the most horrific and catastrophic crashes imaginable, and they occur much too often.  We believe that equipping all new trucks with AEB is the responsible and reasonable thing to do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) own estimate include that forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems can prevent thousands of crashes each year. This rulemaking needs to be finalized now and should apply to all trucks. With every year that implementation of this technology is delayed, hundreds, if not thousands, will unnecessarily die and even more will suffer serious injuries.

Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

The FMCSA and NHTSA must finalize this life-saving, cost-effective rule without further delay.

Data from the Department of Transportation shows that speeding-related fatalities account for nearly one out of three traffic fatalities in the United States each year. That coupled with the facts that truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities have steadily increased unabated since 2009, does not bode well for safety on our roads. Finalizing a final rule requiring all trucks to have a speed limiter set at 65mph or less will help reverse the aforementioned trends.

The agencies have delayed progress on this commonsense rulemaking more than 20 times since they granted a petition to initiate rulemaking back in 2011. To make matters worse, the Administration’s recently released Unified Agenda identified the rulemaking as a long-term action item, meaning that the agencies require a minimum of 12 months to produce their next action. In other words, this is yet another delay.

The delays, however, are ludicrous for several reasons. For one, speed-limiting devices have been built into most large trucks dating back to the 1990s, according the agencies’ joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Thus, there is no capital expense required to simply turn on and use them on trucks with this technology. The NPRM also notes that the heavy vehicle speed limiter rule will produce a net benefit of more than $1.1 billion and can save up to an estimated 500 lives each year. Given these compelling numbers, combined with the fact that Ontario saw at-fault speeding-related truck crashes fall by 73 percent and fatalities in all crashes involving big rigs dropped 24 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology took effect there, we cannot comprehend the agencies inaction and lack of urgency.

As the NTSB notes in a recent report, Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles, mandating heavy vehicle speed limiters is commonsense and cost-effective solution that will prevent injuries and save lives in crashes involving large trucks.

Rear and Side Underride Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear and side underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. Truck underride crashes can be catastrophic because the car goes under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment safety features; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs.

The safety benefits of rear underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, seven of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the proposed federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph. It is expected that all eight leading trailer manufacturers will be ToughGuard certified by December 31, 2017.

The NTSB has continually issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards and for side underride protection systems. In addition, the NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015.  IIHS crash tests demonstrated that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly, and that there are available underride guards that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

NHTSA has also reported that large truck side impacts comprised 17 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015.  One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection.

Unfortunately, since granting petitions for rulemaking back in 2014, NHTSA has taken no action, aside from delaying, the NPRM for rear underride guards on trailers and the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks. Additionally, the agency has taken no action to evaluate side underride guards.

Fully Implement Final Rules

Electronic Logging Device (ELD)

TSC opposes any attempt to delay this life-saving regulation or to allow exemptions for specific industries or special interests.

Updating the methodology by which drivers record their hours of service is long overdue. ELD technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. This mandate will also protect truck drivers from being coerced to exceed the hours they are allowed to operate because ELDs automatically record driving time, and therefore truck drivers cannot circumvent compliance by simply writing down false hours. It is important to note that this regulation makes no changes to the existing Hours of Services rules.

Additionally, the ELD mandate will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS restrictions and expedite the process of reviewing a truck driver’s logbook. This potential benefit of the ELD rulemaking would be blunted, however, if the agency allows exemptions as it would create confusion for law enforcement officers. The shift from paperwork to electronic logging will save not only time, but also it will produce a benefit or more than $1 billion, according to the FMCSA.

After working for more than two decades to produce a final rule that requires large trucks to be equipped with Electronic Logging Devices, the Truck Safety Coalition opposes any further delay or exemptions to the mandate. Instead of focusing on the costs of this regulation, which cost less than replacing a few truck tires, we should all be more concerned about truck driver fatigue – a preventable problem that kills and injures far too many each people year. There has been ample time for members of the industry to transition from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices, especially considering that there are a plenty of companies from which they can purchase an ELD device.

The ELD Final Rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from large truck crashes each year. We cannot fathom why anyone would direct an agency, whose mission is to promote safety, to consider a delay that would result in an estimated 130 fatalities and 2,810 injuries over five years, which was recently requested.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse rule will greatly enhance safety on our roads as employers will be able to access information regarding the testing history of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers applying for jobs and identify drivers who have previously violated alcohol and drug tests.

CMV drivers who have violated drug and alcohol testing are currently a major risk to everyone with whom they share the road. Under the soon-to-be-replaced system of self-reporting, many employers were unable to access the necessary information to avoid hiring problem drivers. The establishment of this new drug and alcohol clearinghouse that requires employers to check current and prospective employees will be a significant step forward for safety.

All too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not discovered until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues.  So long as this rule is fully implemented without delay, this will no longer be the case.

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

Increasing the Minimum Level of Insurance

 The withdrawal of a long overdue ANPRM to increase the minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers was extremely disappointing, and the agency should reintroduce this rulemaking at once.

The fact of that matter is that the minimum level of insurance required by trucks per incident has not been increased since 1980. It has not been adjusted for inflation or, more appropriately, for medical cost inflation. The results of these decades of inaction are devastating. Families must face the financial impact of under-insured truckers along with the emotional and physical destruction. The failure to raise the required amount of minimum insurance allows chameleon carriers to enter the market, with no underwriting, and simply close down and reincorporate under a new name following a catastrophic crash.

Yet, this issue not only impacts survivors and families of truck crash victims; it affects all taxpayers. Insurance is supposed to address the actual damages caused. When there is an insufficient payout, families are forced to declare bankruptcy or rely on government programs after being financially drained. The costs of healthcare, property, and lost income for all parties involved in a truck crash can greatly exceed $750,000 per event, and all of these costs are much higher today than they were in 1980. The unpaid costs are then passed on to taxpayers. In other words, maintaining the grossly inadequate minimum privatizes profits but socializes the costs of underinsured trucking.

Moreover, if the mandate for minimum insurance is to remain a significant incentive for carriers to operate safely as Congress intended, it must be updated to reflect the current realities of the industry. Because the minimum insurance requirements have not kept pace with inflation, the $750,000 per event has become a disincentive for unsafe motor carriers to improve and maintain the safety of their operations. Additionally, raising the minimum amount of insurance will motivate insurers to apply a higher level of scrutiny in determining which motor carriers they insure.

What is even more frustrating and confusing about this decision to walk away from this rulemaking is that the DOT fully acknowledges that $750,000 is an insufficient amount to cover one person’s life. The Department uses a value of statistical life of $9.6 million. This is a figure the DOT defines “as the additional cost that individuals would be willing to bear for improvements in safety (that is, reductions in risks) that, in the aggregate, reduce the expected number of fatalities by one,” and updates to account for changes in prices and real income. Clearly, the DOT has determined that not only is a single life worth more than $750,000 but that it benefits the American public to ensure that these values are indexed to inflation.

The FMCSA’s decision to forego pursuing a commonsense approach to enhancing safety on our roads and leveling the playing field in our nation’s trucking industry is deeply troubling, but unfortunately, it is yet another data point to demonstrate the agency’s dereliction of duty and lack of direction. If the agency fails to reintroduce this rulemaking, we call on the Secretary of Transportation to take immediate action to increase the minimum insurance requirement and to index it to inflation, which she is empowered to do under the law. This way, the amount will be increased periodically and apolitically.

Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

 The FMCSA’s withdrawal of a rulemaking that would establish requirements for sleep apnea screening is another demonstration of the agency’s denial of data, and it is a serious error that should be remedied as quickly as possible.

Sleep apnea is not a made-up affliction; it is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are at risk of becoming fatigued as their body and brain are deprived of oxygen and the restorative effects of sleep. Undiagnosed, this chronic disorder can be debilitating to a driver’s health and make him or her a danger to others on the road. It affects approximately five percent of the general population, and up to 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Policymakers at the FMCSA need to do more to eradicate fatigue as a factor that causes truck crashes, including preventing truckers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) from getting behind the wheel and driving tired because of their sleep disorder. In fact, truck drivers who fail adhere to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to get involved in a crash than a truck driver who is on treatment.

Modify Rulemakings:

Entry Level Driver Training

 The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training rule for commercial motor vehicle drivers was a major waste of time as the this final rule does not include a minimum number of hours required behind the wheel.

After languishing for 25 years following a mandate from Congress, TSC was hopeful that the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), comprised of law enforcement, safety advocates, and industry, would be able to produce a negotiated rulemaking that included a minimum number of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours. After a number of meetings, a proposed rule was negotiated that included both a theoretical curriculum and a 30-hour minimum of BTW training. Unfortunately, the years of waiting and the participation of the ELDTAC committee was for naught. The final rule does not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it. It should.

Without a minimum BTW training hours requirement, the agency will not be able to ensure that commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants have had actual time behind-the-wheel to learn safe operations of a truck. Requiring a set number of hours to ensure that a licensee is sufficiently educated in his or her profession is common for far less deadly and injurious jobs, such as barbers and real estate salespersons. Even other transportation-related professions, like pilots, are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to complete more than 250 hours of flight time – their version of BTW training. Unfortunately, the FMCSA opted for a Pyrrhic victory that allowed them to check the box for finalizing one of their many unfinished, overdue, and much-needed rulemakings instead of producing a final rule that would do as their mission states: “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.”

Given the overlap between trucking companies and training programs, and an industry turnover rate above 90 percent, the FMCSA is naïve to think that a BTW training standard based solely on a driver-trainee’s ‘proficiency’ will result in needed training and practice behind the wheel. The driver-trainees will be forced to complete BTW training at the pace of the training school they attend or the trucking company that runs it, which can lead to CDL mills.

Conclusion

Over the past year, it has become clear that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the current administration have no intention of producing meaningful mandates that will “solve current problems,” and every intention of removing regulations for the sake of removing regulations. The Administration has made no mention of the 4,317 people killed in 2016, or the fact that the number of truck crash fatalities has increased by 28 percent since 2009. The President has not even nominated someone to run NHTSA and his nominee for FMCSA administrator has yet to be confirmed. The DOT has not offered a single solution to address the rising number of truck crashes or the fact that driving a truck is constantly one of the deadliest jobs in America. Yet, this administration has already withdrawn two rulemakings and delayed four rulemakings – all of which could have improved truck safety. We hope the DOT will do more to promote safety in the public interest rather than catering to special interests.

Docket DOT-OST-2017-0069

Comments Submitted 12/01/2017

Regulatory Review | 82 Federal Register 45750, October 2, 2017

STATEMENT OF SAFETY ADVOCATES AND TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES CONDEMNING FMCSA PLAN TO WITHDRAW IMPORTANT RULE ON TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2017

Truck Drivers Suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Fatigue are a Clear Threat to Themselves and Other Road Users

Dropping Rules to Screen and Assist Drivers with OSA Puts Lives at Risk

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is threatening the safety of all motorists by abandoning plans to require screening and treatment for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). FMCSA’s plan to withdraw an important safety rulemaking which is already underway ignores the advice of medical experts, fellow federal regulators and even the agency’s own advisory committees. The move comes at a time when the number of truck crashes, fatalities and injuries continues to skyrocket.

Fatigue is a well-known and well-documented safety problem.  Large truck and motorcoach drivers frequently work long shifts with irregular schedules, often without adequate sleep. Compelling and consistent research from groups like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has shown that OSA-afflicted drivers who are not properly treated are more prone to fatigue and have a higher crash rate than the general driver population. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also considers OSA to be a disqualifying condition unless properly treated. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is so concerned about fatigue-involved crashes that the Board included fatigue on both its 2016 and 2017/2018 Most Wanted List of safety changes because fatigue has been cited as a major contributor to truck crashes.

Ignoring the threat of fatigued truck drivers is particularly dangerous at a time when annual truck crash fatalities are comparable to a major airplane crash every other week of the year. In 2015, crashes involving large trucks led to the deaths of 4,067 people and left 116,000 more injured. Moreover, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), fatalities in large truck crashes have increased by 20 percent since 2009 and large truck crash injuries have increased by 57 percent over the same time period.

It is especially disappointing that FMCSA is failing to heed the warning of its own advisory committees regarding OSA screenings. In 2012, the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) and its Medical Review Board found that drivers with a body mass index of 35 or greater are more likely to suffer from OSA and recommended that they undergo an objective evaluation for the condition.

FMCSA’s move to kill this vital rule threatens the safety of truck drivers and the public at large. Basic safety protections are critical not only to help identify CMV drivers with OSA and get them the treatment they need, but also to provide clear rules to the industry, drivers and medical professionals on how best to deal with this significant safety risk.

Henry Jasny, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and a MCSAC member, said, “In abandoning its effort to screen professional commercial drivers for the serious medical condition of obstructive sleep apnea, the FMCSA fails to protect public safety on our highways from those who drive while fatigued due to this condition. The agency also shows a callous disregard for the health and well-being of drivers who suffer from OSA. This is yet another example of the FMCSA throwing its mission, to make safety its highest priority, under the bus.”

“Today, FMCSA showed, once again, a lack of commitment to improving commercial motor carrier safety at a time when truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities continue to surge,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition and member of the MCSAC. “The agency’s misguided move also demonstrates a refusal to listen to the advice of advisory boards with experts on this issue – the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee and the Medical Review Board. The withdrawal of this lifesaving rule that would establish requirements for sleep apnea screening is baffling given the agency is charged with improving motor carrier safety and, according to one of the largest sleep apnea studies, up to 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers are at risk this health problem.”

Jane Mathis, a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) who also serves on the MCSAC, stated, “Sleep apnea is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are at risk of becoming fatigued as their body and brain are deprived of oxygen and the restorative effects of sleep. Policymakers at the FMCSA should be doing more to prevent truck crashes, which have skyrocketed 45 percent since 2009, including preventing truckers with OSA from getting behind the wheel and driving tired because of their sleep disorder. My son David and his wife of five days Mary Kathryn were driving home from their honeymoon when they were rear-ended and killed by a truck driver who had fallen asleep behind the wheel. Withdrawing this rulemaking is a step in the wrong direction for the safety of all motorists.”

Steve Owings, Co-Founder of Road Safe America and a MCSAC member, stated, “As the father of a young man who was killed in a truck crash, I know how dangerous large trucks can be and how critically important safety protections are. Drivers suffering from OSA are at risk from the effects of fatigue which pose a real danger to all those who share the road with large trucks. I am disheartened and dismayed that the FMCSA is ignoring the advice of its own advisory panels and other experts by withdrawing plans to require OSA screenings for commercial truck drivers. In fact, a survey prepared for the FMCSA found that almost two-thirds of drivers often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and almost half had said they had fallen asleep while driving the previous year. Instead of taking action to remedy this problem, today’s action fails the motoring public.”

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Fatigue / Electronic Logging Devices

 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule in Effect on December 18, 2017

Implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Law, MAP-21 (P.L. 112-141) required FMCSA to issue a rule mandating ELDs in all commercial vehicles within one year, by July 2013. The final rule for ELDs was issued on December 16, 2015 and requires compliance starting on December 18, 2017. TSC looks forward to the full implementation of this rule and opposes any calls for delays or exemptions.

Preventing Exemptions to HOS Regulations Exemptions to federal motor carrier safety regulations compromise safety, erode uniformity and weaken enforcement efforts. Safety is not unique to certain types of commercial motor vehicles, carriers, cargo or routes. Allowing industry-specific exemptions to safety regulations is not only dangerous, but it also sets an unsafe precedent for other industries to request similar exemptions. TSC opposes exemptions to HOS regulations through the legislative process for these reasons.

Assuring Truck Driver Fitness TSC supports rulemaking for sleep apnea screening to ensure medical examiners are testing for and monitoring this fatigue related condition. We urge the review and regulation of legal Schedule II prescription drugs and/or use of any substance that impairs cognitive or motor ability.

Supporting Changes to Truck Driver Compensation – A large portion of the trucking industry is paid by the mile rather than by the hour. Truck drivers work nearly twice the hours in a normal workweek, for less pay than similar industries. As a result of their pay structure and because they are not paid for all hours worked, there is an incentive to drive longer and faster in order to increase their earnings. Paying truck drivers for every hour worked will promote safer trucking by removing incentives to dangerous driving behaviors.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.

A study sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

In spite of the industry wide safety issue of truck driver fatigue, in 2003, the truck driver hours of service rule (HOS) was changed, increasing the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel from 10 to 11 consecutive hours in a 14-hour work window.

Electronic Logging Device Final Rule

Safety Groups Respond to U.S. DOT IG Rubber Stamping Study on Truck Driver Hours of Service Safety Protections

Study Created with Pre-Determined Outcome of Failure

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Late last week, the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) sent a letter to Congress regarding a study of safety reforms to the truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules. By sending this letter, the IG essentially gives the imprimatur of this well-respected office to a study that was set up for failure at the onset and will ultimately result in the continuation of the widespread industry problem of truck driver fatigue.  Parameters of the study and what it was charged with finding were widely attributed to being crafted by corporate trucking interests in an effort to undue safety reforms which took effect in 2013.  While the IG may have signed off that the study was carried out as mandated by Congress, the IG did not assess the underlying data used.  Rather, the IG simply “rubber stamped” that the “junk science” study checked off all the boxes required by Congress when it created the study.

As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, corporate trucking interests and their friends in Congress inserted legislative language that suspended enforcement of the 2013 HOS reforms until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed further study on the effectiveness of the provisions.  Concerned that the study would not produce results favorable to their agenda, these same interests inserted additional language into the FY 2016 THUD bill which raised the bar on what the study had to find. This backroom industry rewrite all but guaranteed the preordained outcome that was realized today.  These policy provisions were inserted to a funding bill behind closed doors without any public input. Further, they belie decades of irrefutable data that shows that driver fatigue is a serious safety problem within the trucking industry.  “When I began advocating for truck safety after a truck driver fell asleep while driving and killed my son Jeff, I never thought I would still be fighting on the issue of fatigue more than two decades later,” said Daphne Izer, Co-Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), “Truck drivers should not be forced to drive and work such grueling schedules, and the public should not be subjected to the risk that tired truckers pose to all road users.”

The study, while yet to be made available for public review, could have only examined 15 months of data as the Obama reforms went into effect in July of 2013 and were suspended at the behest of the certain segments of the trucking industry in December of 2014.  The fact that the study was fatally flawed from the start and reached such a dubious conclusion is totally unsurprising. “This study does nothing to shed light on the serious problem of truck driver fatigue,” said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  “But, it does shed light on the power of special trucking interests to run to their friends in Congress and repeal important health and safety rules.  Sadly, the U.S. DOT IG has become yet another political pawn in this tortured process.”

Common sense and real world experience clearly show that truck driver fatigue is a serious and pervasive safety problem, no matter how much special trucking interests wish to believe otherwise. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue related crashes on the 2017-18 Most Wanted List of safety changes.  In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has warned that drowsy driving can have the same consequences as driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  “Since 2009, truck crashes have shot up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries,” stated John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “Instead of focusing on requiring crash avoidance technologies in large trucks that would have actually reduced crashes, FMCSA was forced to spend time and money conducting an ill-conceived study based on flawed data.”

While high profile crashes like the one that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan grab national headlines, fatigue-related crashes happen to families all over the country every day.  Until leaders in Congress are willing to face the real facts about truck driver fatigue, far too many Americans will continue to be needlessly killed by tired truckers.

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Kentucky Op-Ed: More dangerous highways? Give it (and drivers) a rest

As Thanksgiving travelers hit the highways for home, consider that the trucking industry is so desperate for drivers that it’s pushing to lower the minimum driving age from 21 to 18 and is aggressively recruiting retirees.

The industry estimates that it will need to hire 89,000 new drivers each year over the next decade to replace retirees and meet growing freight demand. Here’s a recruiting tip: Start treating drivers like humans rather than automatons that don’t need to sleep.

Instead, with help from friends in Congress, the industry is out to kill rules aimed at protecting all of us, which guarantee that drivers of commercial vehicles, including buses, get reasonable rest. Congress must pass a spending plan by Dec. 9, so the plan is to attach repeal of Obama administration rest rules to it.

Kentuckians Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader, and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers are in positions to stop the permanent repeal of science-based requirements for 34 hours of rest, including two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. when sleep is most restorative, after driving 60 hours in a week and a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of a shift to preserve alertness. The industry also is seeking to block state rest requirements.

At the very least, such critical safety decisions should be subject to public debate and not attached to measures that must pass to avert a government shutdown.

After years of study, the anti-fatigue rule took effect in 2013, but Congress suspended it — despite a 50 percent increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes from 2009 to 2014. Truck crash deaths increased 20 percent from 2009 to last year when 4,067 people died in truck crashes, the most since 2008.

This won’t surprise: When tractor-trailer rigs tangle with passenger vehicles, 97 percent of the dead are occupants of the passenger vehicles. The lethality of truck crashes is evident in Kentucky where last year big trucks were involved in 4 percent of all vehicle collisions but in 9 percent of fatal collisions.

Driving a large truck is one of the most dangerous jobs; more than 700 commercial drivers died on the job in 2013, according to Bloomberg. Drivers are exempt from federal overtime rules and are usually paid by the mile.

A stunning 48 percent of truck drivers said they had fallen asleep while driving, according to a survey funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration .

Reducing fatigue-related accidents is one of the top priorities of the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates transportation accidents and disasters and makes recommendations for averting them in the future. “Fatigue degrades a person’s ability to stay awake, alert, and attentive to the demands of controlling their vehicle safely. To make matters worse, fatigue actually impairs our ability to judge just how fatigued we really are,” says the NTSB. A fatigued driver can be as impaired as someone who is legally drunk.

Instead of rolling back rest requirements, Congress and federal transportation officials should be looking at requiring regular skills tests of commercial drivers. CBS News recently reported a 19 percent increase in accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers in their 70s, 80s and 90s in the last three years. More than 6,636 crashes in just 12 states involved elderly commercial drivers from 2013 to 2015, according to CBS.

We all depend on products moved by truck. Fortunately, the trucking industry is not unanimous in its opposition to the rest rule. By saving the rule, Congress can ensure that a commitment to safety does not become a competitive disadvantage.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/editorials/article117054288.html#storylink=cpy

Road safety advocates look to keep hours-of-service restart rule intact

Washington – At least one advocacy group and two truck safety advocates are calling for the federal government to maintain strict hours-of-service regulations for commercial motor vehicle drivers as a way to combat fatigued driving.

At press time, the outlook for the HOS rule for CMV drivers remained uncertain as Congress weighed the Omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017. Language in the bill could repeal a requirement for drivers to take a 34-hour break once a week – including two stints between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.

The Arlington, VA-based Truck Safety Coalition states that if such language is approved, CMV drivers would see their working and driving hours increase to 82 hours from 70 and the elimination of a required “weekend” off.

In a letter sent Nov. 10 to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Jackie Novak of the Truck Safety Coalition and Jennifer Tierney of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways wrote that “if this anti-safety measure is enacted, it will result in more overtired and overworked truck drivers driving alongside our loved ones, which will inevitably lead to more crashes, injuries and fatalities. … Clearly, the solution to this pervasive problem is not to add more driving and working time, but rather to consider ways to address and prevent fatigue.”

The Department of Transportation originally issued the restart rule in 2011 after considering material from about 21,000 formal docket comments, six public listening sessions, a review of 80 sources of scientific research and approximately 10 years of rulemaking, according to the Truck Safety Coalition. Any policy rider attached to the fiscal 2017 omnibus appropriations bill will not have been subject to public scrutiny, committee hearings or safety reviews, the coalition states.

On May 19, the Senate approved a transportation funding bill that would preserve the HOS rule, with specific details hinging on the results of a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association. FMCSA aimed to determine if the weekly break improves safety or creates additional crash risks during the morning rush hour. The rule was suspended, pending further research into its safety effects, as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015.

Letter from NC Truck Safety Advocates to Secretary Foxx on Hours of Service

November 9, 2016

The Honorable Anthony Foxx Secretary,

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave., SE Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary Foxx:

We appreciate your verbal commitment to improving safety of our roads and vehicles throughout your tenure as Secretary of Transportation. In public meetings and congressional hearings, you have consistently said that far too many people are killed despite decades of safety advances. We completely agree with that statement. Yet, it will be your actions that truly make the difference in decreasing the deaths and injuries that have left families like ours devastated and incomplete. We urge you to stand with us and oppose any provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations bill that will weaken the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations by overturning the Obama rule and increasing truck drivers’ weekly working and driving hours from 70 to 82 and eliminating their required “weekend” off. It is imperative that the Administration continues the position relayed in the May 16, 2016, Statement of Administration Policy on how changes to the HOS rules “have the potential to undercut public safety.” Now is the time when the rubber hits the road, and we need your leadership to ensure the safety of truck drivers and all motorists on our roads and highways.

With truck crashes having skyrocketed by 44 percent between 2009 and 2014 (the last available year of complete data), weakening any truck safety rule or law should not even be considered. The attack on truck driver HOS rules on Capitol Hill will undue rules that were issued by the U.S. DOT after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and trucking industry associations; six 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; 10 years of rulemaking; and, three successful lawsuits. Moreover, the anti-Obama HOS rule provision has not been subject to any public scrutiny, committee hearings, or adequate safety review, and this substantive policy overhaul is not based on any sound scientific research, independent expert analysis, or objective peer review.

If this anti-safety measure is enacted, it will result in more overtired and overworked truck drivers driving alongside our loved ones, which will inevitably lead to more crashes, injuries, and fatalities. As you know, driver fatigue is a well-documented and widespread problem in the trucking industry. In fact, the Department of Transportation’s own data shows that more than six out of ten truck drivers have driven while fatigued, and nearly half have admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel. Clearly, the solution to this pervasive problem is not to add more driving and working time, but rather to consider ways to address and prevent fatigue.

As the President’s top transportation advisor, you have the unique ability to demonstrate your commitment to safety and stop this attempt to weaken HOS regulations by recommending that the President continue to oppose and veto any spending bill that includes language seeking to increase the number of truck driver working and driving hours. We hope we can count on you to ensure that this Administration vocally opposes and does not sign into law any bill that will degrade highway safety in any way.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)

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

 

 

Omnibus-HOS Letter to Secretary Foxx-Nov 2016

Letter to Secretary Foxx from Rick Watts

The Honorable Anthony Foxx

Secretary

U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.

Washington, D.C. 20590

 

Dear Secretary Foxx:

Today, I sat through the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) meeting as they determined the probable cause of and adopted a report on the truck crash that killed my wife, Tiffany, my mother-in-law, Sandra Anderson, and my step-daughters, Kelsie and Savannah.  As I listened to the NTSB staff present the report findings, my sorrow, anger and frustration grew at the painful reminder of how avoidable this crash was and how little your Department is doing to promote policies and adopt regulations that could have prevented it. The lack of urgency, the delays in issuing regulations and the inadequate oversight of the motor carrier industry are just a few of the major problems plaguing the Department.

My family was killed in a work zone truck crash near Chattanooga in June 2015. At the meeting today, the NTSB determined that there were no mechanical issues with any of the nine vehicles involved, weather was not a contributing factor, and there were ample visual cues to alert the truck driver of the impending work zone and traffic. Unfortunately, the truck driver far exceeded the legal limit on hours of service (HOS) leading up to the crash, was under the influence of narcotics, and was speeding – traveling approximately 80 mph which was well above the posted limit of 55 mph. These factors greatly diminished his ability to operate safely and, ultimately, resulted in his truck hitting seven vehicles and traveling 453 feet from the initial impact area to its final rest position.  Six people were killed and four more were injured.  Worse yet, all of these factors were completely preventable with known and proven solutions, many of which have been previously recommended by the NTSB.

The rapidly rising number of truck crashes, fatalities and injuries is a clear indicator that the Department of Transportation has a double standard for safety.  In 2009, there were 286,000 truck crashes; by 2014 that number shot up to 411,000 – a 44 percent increase. From 2009 to 2014, there was a 50 percent increase in truck crash injuries. From 2009 to 2015, there was a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities, which resulted in deaths exceeding 4,000 for the first time since 2008. Yet, your Department has adopted a standard of zero tolerance for commercial airplane crashes and achieved that goal for seven years now.

Considering these facts, I urge the Department to take immediate action and make truck safety your priority.  One of the most important steps is to commence a rulemaking requiring crash avoidance technologies as standard equipment on all large trucks. Using this proven, life-saving technology will reduce the number of truck crashes and increase the number of lives saved and injuries prevented. According to one estimate by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), current generation automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year and future generation systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually. Yet, NHTSA has still not initiated any rulemakings requiring AEB.

Additionally, the agency is working to complete a rulemaking to update a 20-year-old underride guard standard with one that will have little impact in advancing safety.  Right now 93 percent of trailers sold in the United States already meet or exceed the proposed, ten-year-old, Canadian standard. Likewise, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has done little to increase the minimum levels of financial responsibility for motor carriers, which has not been raised in 35 years.  This is particularly infuriating to victims like me because the Secretary is empowered to raise the woefully inadequate minimum insurance requirement. Instead, this agency is more concerned with appeasing members of the trucking industry by creating a crash weighting determination process, which will be burdensome, costly, and unnecessary while it does little, if anything at all, to improve prediction of crash risk.

The DOT has also failed to meet deadlines required by Congress that could have ensured that my wife, her mother, and two daughters were not killed. Even though your Department was mandated to promulgate a final rule for a Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse for commercial drivers by October of 2014, one has still not been produced. In those two years, the truck driver who caused the crash was twice charged with possession of methamphetamine, once for a previous incident and once after causing the crash.

I, along with thousands of other families who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a speeding truck crash, am also waiting for the long overdue heavy vehicle speed limiter rule, which has been delayed nearly thirty times over the span of ten years. While NHTSA has released a notice of proposed rulemaking, it is exceedingly weak and it would be preposterous for the rule to only apply to new trucks considering this technology has been a standard capability in most trucks since the 1990s.

We urge you to use your remaining time of 4 months as Secretary to direct NHTSA and FMCSA to issue regulations that will make trucking safer for all of us sharing the road — truck drivers, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. We also urge you to oppose any efforts in Congress to attack the HOS rule in the government spending bill.

Requiring AEB on all new large trucks, issuing a strong rear and side underride guard rule, and raising the minimum levels of insurance to levels appropriate in 2016 are urgently needed now. This could be the difference between directing a Department that stood by and allowed truck crash deaths to exceed 4,000 for the first time in eight years, or implementing real solutions to real problems that affect real people like me.

Thank you for your time and consideration.  I look forward to receiving your prompt response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Rick Watts

Morristown, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Husband of Tiffany Watts,

Son-in-Law of Sandra Anderson,

Step-father of Kelsie and Savannah Garrigues

Killed in a truck crash 6/25/15

Letter to Secretary Foxx – Rick Watts

Huffington Post: [Some in Congress] Want To Use Zika Funding Bill To Keep Truckers On The Road Longer

Add-on provision could let truckers work more than 80 hours a week.

WASHINGTON ― Want to keep the government open? Want to fund the Zika response? The trucking industry and Republican allies in Congress say the price for that could be weakening rest rules for truck drivers, sources said.

The industry is trying to latch onto the stopgap bill that Congress must pass this month to combat Zika and to fund the government until Dec. 9, hoping to slip in a provision that would permanently block a rest regulation for truck drivers that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has tried to implement since 2013.

The rule would ensure that drivers take off at least two nights a week and drive no more than 70 hours. It was enacted because research suggested the best, most restorative sleep happens at night, and because accidents jump dramatically when drivers are fatigued.

The industry and many drivers believe this rule robs them of flexibility. Forcing drivers to sleep at night means they have to drive during the daytime, when there are more vehicles on the roads and more accidents, they argue.

Sources familiar with talks over the government funding bill and Zika legislation say Republicans are pushing the unrelated trucking provision, and that Democrats are reluctant to go along.

“They want to make the blockage of the rule permanent,” one of the sources said, speaking on background because matters were still being negotiated.

Although trucking policy has nothing to do with Zika or short-term government appropriations, the industry has repeatedly used funding crises to attach riders that it favors and cannot pass through the regular legislative process.

The trucking lobby, which spends more than $20 million a year to influence Congress, has managed to block the rule before by getting it suspended for more study. It won that concession in the infamous “CRomnibus” spending bill that kept the government from shutting down shortly before Christmas in 2014.

The offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) did not answer questions about the provision. And since the details of the current bill are not public, it was unclear what the new trucking language would be.

It could be similar to provisions that the trucking industry got added to earlier Zika and funding bills that have not passed Congress. One such provision in the Senate would let drivers stay behind the wheel for 73 hours each week, with an additional 8.5 hours permitted for other work.

The idea has not been studied by safety experts and none of the sleep provisions pushed by the industry have been subjected to congressional hearings.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zika-funding-trucker-safety_us_57e038a6e4b04a1497b5f5fb

Maine Voices: Sen. Collins needs to change her position on trucking safety rules

As summer winds down, it is time to reflect on the safety of our roads and the hundreds of loved ones across the country who were needlessly killed or injured in truck crashes over the past few months. Our sons were killed in crashes caused by tired truckers. They were two of the nearly 4,000 people who die each year in truck crashes, many of which are preventable. Another 100,000 people are seriously injured.

Since the tragic deaths of our sons, our mission has been devoted to preventing this tragedy from happening to others by promoting common-sense safety solutions. Yet, one of our own U.S. senators, Susan Collins, continues to thwart our efforts to improve truck safety for families in Maine and across the country.

For the past few years, Sen. Collins has been the flag-bearer for trucking interests seeking to undermine and undo safety rules. From her powerful seat as chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that is responsible for determining spending levels for federal transportation programs, she has continually provided special access and favors to trucking interests.

For example, she single-mindedly sought to stop federal rules issued in 2013 on the number of driving and resting hours for truck drivers. Although truck driver fatigue is a well-documented and major cause of truck crashes, she just won’t stop.

After her previous attempts to kill off the federal safety rule on rest time for truck drivers fell short of her goal, she decided to take another approach. Instead of allowing the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct an open and public rulemaking for a regulation based on research and science, she opted to write the rule herself.

Of course, she did it behind closed doors with the help of her trucking friends. When families of truck crash victims and safety groups objected and opposed her safety assaults, she resorts to questioning our motives. Does this behavior sound familiar from a politician in the news these days?

Several weeks ago, Sen. Collins announced in a Washington Post op-ed reprinted in this newspaper that she will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. One of the reasons she cites is his criticism of the grieving parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, which she found unacceptable. Yet she is quick to criticize grieving parents who have lost children in truck crashes because we won’t be silenced and have the audacity to challenge her efforts to set back safety on behalf of special trucking interests.

The senator complained earlier this year in media interviews that safety groups were ignoring other provisions recently passed in Congress mandating federal rules forspeed-limiting devices on large trucks and electronic logging devices for recording work and driving hours of truckers.

For many years, we have strongly supported and urged adoption of these truck safety measures and will continue to push agency actions because of unacceptable and excessive government delays. During these years, Sen. Collins has stood on the sidelines on these issues.

Now, she stands near the finish line of our long and difficult efforts to enhance safety, eager and ready to take credit for these safety improvements that were proposed, promoted and brought to near conclusion by others.

Increasing the number of hours that a trucker can work and drive and reducing rest time, as Sen. Collins has done, are not sensible solutions unless you are championing industry profits. Truck crashes have surged from 286,000 in 2009 to 411,000 in 2014– a 44 percent increase. Furthermore, truck crash injuries have skyrocketed by 50 percent during that same period. Truck crash fatalities also continue to rise, increasing nearly 16 percent between 2009 and 2014.

The bad news is the DOT just released figures showing that truck crash fatalities increased by another 4 percent from 2014 to 2015, exceeding 4,000 annual deaths for the first time since 2008.

A staggering 80 percent of the public oppose longer hours for truck drivers. Truck drivers deserve a real “weekend” off and the public deserves to be sharing the road with truck drivers who are rested and alert. It is time for Sen. Collins to stop picking on victims of truck crashes and safety groups and start listening to her constituents and the American people she was elected to represent.

Link: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/maine-voices-sen-collins-needs-to-change-her-position-on-trucking-safety-rules/

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Daphne Izer of Lisbon and Christina Mahaney of Jackman are mothers whose sons were killed in fatigue-related truck crashes.

Be Careful Driving This Memorial Day, Truck Drivers Are Falling Asleep Across the Country

Minnesota:

On May 5th, a semi driver fell asleep behind the wheel before causing a three-truck crash. According to the Minnesota State Police, “Timothy Tillman, a 31-year-old Minneapolis man, fell asleep while driving his 2001 International 4000 series truck and rear-ended a 1995 International being driven by Brandon Belland, a 25-year-old Milaca man. Belland’s truck then rear-ended a 1998 International truck being driven by Steven Workman, a 21-year-old Princeton man.”

Link: http://millelacscountytimes.com/2016/05/18/driver-falls-asleep-behind-wheel-hits-trucks-of-local-men/

Ohio:

After falling asleep while driving, a truck driver crashed his box truck into a rest stop in Ohio on May 20th. According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, there was little evidence of braking and nothing wrong with the truck’s brakes. The truck driver was cited for driving a commercial vehicle with impaired awareness and failure to maintain control.

Link: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/local/2016/05/20/truck-driver-falls-asleep-crashes-into-rest-area-restrooms/84660122/

Indiana:

On May 25th, a truck driver was stopped at a red light when another truck failed to stop in time, struck it, then rolled on top of it, eventually causing the vehicles to combust . According to the Whitley County Sherriff’s Department, the driver of the second truck told them that he fell asleep behind the wheel, which is why he was inattentive and unable to stop in time. The driver of the first struck sustained burns to his body as we has trapped in the cab of his burning truck before being extricated.

Link: http://www.journalgazette.net/news/local/police-fire/Semi-flattens-car-hauler-in-fiery-crash-on-US-30-13223387

TSC supports efforts to reduce truck driver fatigue. We will continue to oppose exemptions and rollbacks of the Hours of Service regulations, and support efforts to ensure truck driver fitness as well as efforts to change truck driver compensation.

Two People Critically Injured Due to Truck Crash in Licking County, Ohio

On April 12, 2016 at approximately 8:40 a.m., State Trooper Rodney A. Hart, 45, was parked in the right lane of I-70 east of Buckeye Lake helping Shanice J. Parker, 23, with a disabled car when they were both hit by a semi-truck.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Rodney A. Hart and Shanice J. Parker were both inside the cruiser when the semi-truck drifted into the right lane, drove through the flares, and hit the patrol car. Ms. Parker was airlifted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Trooper Rodney A. Hart was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark for his injuries and later released.

The truck driver, Eric Miller, 36, of Montrose, South Dakota, was not injured and was charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and driving a commercial vehicle with impaired alertness.

The crash is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Dead after Truck Crash in Henry County, KY

On April 12, 2016, at approximately 4:00 a.m., the driver, identified as Jordan Mefford, 23, and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Hayes, 26, were driving southbound on I-71 in Henry County when a tractor-trailer traveling north crossed the median and struck their vehicle.

 

Jacqueline Hayes was pronounced dead at the scene and Jordan Mefford was airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment, but later died that night due to his injuries.

 

The driver of the tractor trailer was also taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

 

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Large Truck hits Man from behind in Sumner County, Kansas

On April 27, 2016, at approximately 2:42 a.m., George Britt, 50, was stopped at a toll both on the Kansas Turnpike when his vehicle was struck from behind by a large truck.

Mr. Britt was transported to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. The truck driver was also transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

One Woman Dead and One Woman Injured after a Crash with a Tractor-Trailer in Warren County, MS

On April 30, 2016, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Ashley Dancer, 26, pulled over onto the shoulder of eastbound I-20 to assist Jamia Ransome, 27, who had a flat tire. Ms. Dancer was sitting on the shoulder between the two vehicles and Ms. Ransome was sitting on her GMC Yukon, when a tractor-trailer veered off the interstate and struck the Explorer. The impact caused the Explorer to strike Ms. Dancer and the Yukon.

Ashley Dancer was fatally injured in the crash. Jamia Ransome was transported to University of Mississippi Medical Center for treatment of injuries.

The truck driver was also injured and transported to the medical center for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                          WE ARE HERE TO HELP

THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016

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

THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee

The House Committee on Appropriations today passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which included Section 132 – the tired trucker provision. We are disappointed that a majority of the committee opposed an amendment offered Congressman David Price (D-NC) to remove this and other anti-safety riders from the bill.

Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “I am frustrated that year after year, our lawmakers are more focused on inserting corporate earmarks into must-pass bills than passing data-driven safety solutions that will save lives and prevent injuries. Not only does this special interest handout, which will change a federal safety rule, have no place in an appropriations bill, it has no place in any bill. The tired trucker provision has not been subject to any public scrutiny, committee hearings, or adequate safety review. Trucking industry lobbyists should not be able to use the appropriations process to drive their agendas, while everyday people like me are forced to wait years for meaningful safety reforms in the gridlocked legislative avenues available to the non-lobbying public.”

Jennifer Tierney, the Truck Safety Coalition’s North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator stated, “I was very pleased when I heard that Representative Price offered an amendment to remove several anti-safety riders from the THUD bill, and I thank him on his efforts on behalf of families, survivors, and the motoring public. After more than three decades of advocacy, however, I was not surprised that this commonsense, pro-safety amendment was rejected in favor of a corporate handout. With nearly 4,000 people killed and 100,000 injured year as a result of truck crashes, it is time for our lawmakers to finally acknowledge that increasing a truck driver’s driving and working hours is not the solution to the major safety issue of fatigue.”

“Ultimately, the rejection of the Price amendment has created a tradition that adversely affects policy as well as process. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition will continue to educate the public and lawmakers about policies and regulations that will reduce the number of large truck crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities.” Tierney concluded.

The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).  The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

###

Letter to the editor: Sen. Collins puts trucking industry profits before public safety

The May 11 column “Maine Voices: Common-sense restrictions on truck drivers’ hours must be preserved” makes inaccurate statements about anti-truck safety provisions championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

There are about 500 truck crashes annually in Maine. Many crashes result in deaths and injuries, and the victims are usually Maine families.

Despite the carnage, Sen. Collins continues to be the star quarterback for special trucking interests seeking to repeal safety regulations that protect the lives of truck drivers and Maine families. National news stories have documented her legacy working on behalf of corporate trucking interests and, in turn, their generous largesse for her support.

Unfortunately, the annual government spending bill has become her private domain for pushing anti-truck safety measures. When trucking interests sought to significantly increase truck weights in Maine, Sen. Collins was ready to help. Last year, FedEx and others recognized a willing partner in Sen. Collins when they sought to overturn laws in 39 states, including Maine, and allow monster-sized trucks across the country.

And, for the third consecutive year, as a senior Appropriations Committee member, she slipped a provision into the bill to repeal the reasonable federal limits on the driving and working hours of truckers, although fatigue is a major cause of truck crashes.

However, this time she went even further and wrote into law an increase in the driving hours of truckers from 60 to 73 in a week. This is insane, but she has the temerity to actually claim it will be safer. This proposal had no congressional hearing, no scientific review and no public input. But it’s no problem if you are a well-connected trucking lobbyist.

Truck crashes kill 4,000 people and injure 100,000 more annually. Sen. Collins’ solution is to help corporate trucking interests protect their profits, but not public safety.

Joan Claybrook

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Washington, D.C.

Link: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/20/letter-to-the-editor-sen-collins-puts-trucking-industry-profits-before-public-safety/

Op-Ed: Truckers’ hours are long enough

Monroe County residents have witnessed some spectacularly devastating truck accidents over the years. They should beware measures under consideration in Congress this week that would raise truckers’ allowable working and driving hours, risking even more crashes that would imperil drivers themselves and the motoring public.

Congress is doing this virtually without public scrutiny — without hearings and under pressure from the trucking industry — by including these unsafe proposals in fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills. Elected officials in both the Senate and the House don’t want to get in the way of their precious federal funds.

But human life is precious, too. Senate and House committees are considering raising truckers’ allowable hours from the 60 currently permitted to 73 driving hours per week, plus 10 non-driving hours — loading, unloading, for example. Truckers could take as little as a mere day plus 10 hours, just 34 hours total, time off before they could begin their “work week” all over again. This is more than risky, it’s dangerous. Public safety should never be compromised for the sake of trucking companies’ bottom line.

Drivers themselves oppose these changes. The Teamsters, citizens’ groups, law enforcement agencies, federal and state safety officials and even some trucking companies argue, sensibly, against expanding work hours beyond the cap the Obama administration instituted in 2013.

The National Transportation Safety Board lists reducing fatigue-related crashes as among its top priorities this year, noting that truck crashes result in 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries every year. Driver fatigue is a frequent factor. The NHTSA’s National Automotive Sambling System Crashworthiness Data System crunched data and estimated that 16;5 percent of fatal crashes involved drowsy driving.

Anyone who uses Interstate 80, I-380 or four-lane Route 33/209 is aware of the truck-related carnage that should be everyone’s mission to reduce. Pennsylvania Congressman Shuster, R-9, chairs the House transportation and infrastructure committee. He should vigorously oppose these changes, which industry lobbyists succeeded in getting legislators to slip into the appropriations bills specifically to avoid the public hearings that would be necessary at the committee level. Call Shuster in Washington at 202-225-2431. Ask him which is more important: trucking company profits, or people’s lives?

Link to Article: http://www.poconorecord.com/opinion/20160518/truckers-hours-are-long-enough

Congress Is Using Zika To Weaken Truck Safety

WASHINGTON — Truck driver Dana Logan tried on Wednesday to recount a crash that decapitated two fathers and two children, hoping to convince Congress to stop weakening rules that require truckers to get rest.

She couldn’t do it. A dozen years after the fatigued driver of another truck fell asleep and drove into an SUV stuck in traffic behind her rig on a Texas highway, Logan was still too devastated to finish talking about it.

She drives trucks with her husband, Tim, as a team. That June day in 2004 near Sulphur Springs, the other driver fell asleep and rammed the SUV, pushing it under the carriage of Logan’s trailer, shearing off the top half of the vehicle with its four helpless passengers inside.

Logan got as far as recalling how her husband rushed to help the other trucker.

“When Tim tried the get the injured driver out of the truck, he [the other driver] asked him, ‘Did I hit something?’ Those were his last words before he died,” Logan told reporters in a conference call aimed at legislation moving in Congress this week.

Sobbing, Logan had to stop. She asked her husband to finish.

What the Logans and other safety advocates are worried about are measures that would allow truck drivers to work more than 80 hours a week, tacked onto to separate appropriations bills in the House and the Senate.

In the Senate, a measure that allows 73 hours of driving and an additional 8.5 hours on related work each week was added to a massive spending measure that will fund transportation, housing and military construction projects, as well as the Veterans Administration. Funding for Zika prevention has also been added to that bill, making it very likely to pass.

In the House, measures were added to the transportation and housing appropriations bill under consideration in the committee that set similar rest rules, reverting to regulations originally set in the Bush administration that were repeatedly challenged and thrown out in lawsuits.

Both bills would prevent the Obama administration from enforcing a regulation that briefly went into effect in 2013 that effectively capped truck drivers’ working hours at 70 a week, and ensured they could have two nights off in a row. That rule was blocked by a rider in a 2014 spending bill, which had to pass to avert a government shutdown.

The new inserted policy provisions represent a trend over the last three years of trucking industry interests using must-pass spending bills to win regulatory concessions that are opposed by most safety advocates and likely could not pass as normal stand-alone bills. In this case, not only do the bills fund major parts of the government, they provide cash to fight Zika.

“There’s not been any congressional hearings on any of these proposals,” said Jackie Gillian, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The trucking industry doesn’t want to have hearings, they don’t want to hear from truck drivers like Dana Logan. They don’t want to hear from victims.

“They know that if they do have testimony and they have the experts up there, the people affected, that they would see how illogical and insane these proposals are,” Gillian said.

Those trucking interests see the complaints of safety advocates as illogical.

On the rest requirements, known as hours-of-service rules, the industry believes advocates are inventing problems.

“There’s this claim by these anti-truck groups that drivers are abusing it. There’s no data showing that,” said Dave Osieki, who is in charge of public advocacy at the American Trucking Associations.

Osieki argued that it’s nearly impossible for drivers to string together their hours to hit the 80-plus hour maximums that are theoretically allowed under the rules that the trucking provisions in both spending bills would preserve. “We just don’t see a need for it,” he said of the tougher Obama administration standard with two nights off.

Osieki added that he’s seen no evidence that hours of service rules improve safety.

“Show me a link between compliance or noncompliance of the hours of service rules, and there is none,” he said.

Nevertheless, police who enforce the highway safety laws do see a connection.

One is Illinois Trooper Douglas Balder. Balder was nearly burned alive when a truck driver completely ignored the rules, and drove into the back of Balder’s patrol car. Balder, also a military veteran, spent months in rehab to get back on the beat. He doesn’t want Congress rolling back safety rules, and joined Wednesday’s conference call to say so.

“I continue to take to the road every day to do my part to protect the people and ensure the law is upheld,” Balder said. “I cannot do my job alone. I urge Congress to take necessary action to ensure our safety, not to put us further at risk.”

The White House has threatened to veto the Senate spending bill, in part because of the rest rule rollback. But the prospect of a veto is less likely with the Zika measure attached.

Three senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) hoped to offer an amendment in debate Thursday to restore the Obama rest regulations. It was unclear if they would get the chance amid all the back-and-forth around Zika and other pressing matters surrounding the larger legislation. Democrats tried to remove Zika funding from the bill on Wednesday, but were blocked.

Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-zika-truck-safety_us_573cfc0ae4b0646cbeec1b89

A Davis Man Died on I-80 Truck Wreck in Contra Costa County, CA

On April 21, 2016, at approximately 3:22 a.m., when Angela Valenzuela, 25 had to stop on I-80 freeway due to an earlier accident. As he is waiting for the flow of traffic to resume, Mr.  Valenzuela was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.

The truck and Mr. Valenzuela’s vehicle collided in an area of the highway where lanes blocked off for overnight Caltrans work.

According to CHP Officer Brandon Correia, the vehicles were pushed toward the center divider and careened back into traffic. Three more vehicles were then crashed while trying to avoid the first crash.

Mr. Valenzuela died at the scene. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Appropriations Trickery in Congress

It is an old congressional ritual: loading up vital spending bills that are meant to keep the government running with dangerous amendments aimed at satisfying ideological causes and benefiting special interests.

The Republicans have become adept at this practice in recent years, and this year is no different. Legislative riders attached to appropriations bills would undermine the Iran nuclear deal, weaken highway safety and reduce the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over tobacco products.

These measures would be unlikely to succeed as stand-alone bills, either because they could not get enough votes on their own or because President Obama would veto them. So better to sneak them in without even holding hearings to make a case on their behalf.

Thankfully, Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups are calling attention to these stealth attacks. In the Senate, Democrats managed on Wednesday to block a vote on a water and energy spending bill after Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, tried to attach a provision that would have dealt a severe blow to the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Cotton’s measure would have blocked the administration from purchasing heavy water used in Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran has to get rid of the water to comply with the deal. By denying Iran an American market, Mr. Cotton and other Republicans hoped to undermine the deal, which they hate.

The Senate will soon consider a transportation bill containing a rider that could prevent the Department of Transportation from reinstating a rule aimed at making roads safer by requiring that truckers get adequate rest — two nights of rest after working 60 hours over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight consecutive days.

The rule took effect in July 2013, but it was suspended by Congress in December 2014. The rider bars the administration from reinstating the rule unless it can show that it produced a “statistically significant” improvement in safety and driver health during the brief time it was in place.

That is a ridiculously high burden to meet. If the provision becomes law, it will be impossible for the government to issue basic regulations to make sure companies are not putting dangerously tired drivers on the road.

And the House Appropriations Committee recently passed an agriculture and food spending bill that would make it very hard for the F.D.A. to regulate tobacco products. A rider attached in committee would forbid the agency from regulating “large and premium cigars”; another would rewrite a 2009 law that gave the agency the authority to approve or reject tobacco products that have entered the market after Feb. 15, 2007. This would include electronic cigarettes, for which the agency has proposed regulations.

To prevent the agency from taking e-cigarettes off the market and effectively grandfather them in, Republican lawmakers want to require pre-approval only for products that come out after the F.D.A. issues its final e-cigarette rules, which could be later this year. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the devices are now more popular than conventional cigarettes with middle- and high-school students.

Riders like these are not harmless passengers on legislative vehicles. They can and will do real damage if they are allowed to succeed.

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/opinion/appropriations-trickery-in-congress.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=1

Two People Critically Injured Due to Truck Crash in Licking County, Ohio

On April 12, 2016 at approximately 8:40 a.m., State Trooper Rodney A. Hart, 45, was parked in the right lane of I-70 east of Buckeye Lake helping Shanice J. Parker, 23, with a disabled car when they were both hit by a semi-truck.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Rodney A. Hart and Shanice J. Parker were both inside the cruiser when the semi-truck drifted into the right lane, drove through the flares, and hit the patrol car. Ms. Parker was airlifted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Trooper Rodney A. Hart was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark for his injuries and later released.

The truck driver, Eric Miller, 36, of Montrose, South Dakota, was not injured and was charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and driving a commercial vehicle with impaired alertness.

The crash is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

 

Statement of Daphne Izer in Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service

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

In Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service

April 21, 2016

For a third year now, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill that was co-authored by a select few trucking industry lobbyists. The industry-penned provision will increase the amount of hours truck drivers can work in a week and deprive truckers of a real weekend off. This is wrong on so many levels. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), this practice is business as usual.

It is outrageous that segments of the trucking industry have been able to use must-pass spending bills as legislative vehicles to drive their agendas that make public safety take a back seat. What is even worse is that the process by which industry lobbyists write and insert their provisions is often highly secretive. This has allowed moneyed interests to make changes to laws governing trucking without so much as a congressional hearing, any federal agency review, or any public input.

Lawmakers should treat safety interests with the same importance as corporate interests, but this has not been the case with this appropriations subcommittee. For instance, I have been advocating for more than 20 years for laws requiring large trucks to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) and heavy vehicle speed limiters. Yet, it took nearly two decades for a Final Rule on ELDs, and the Final Rule for speed limiters was just delayed for the 28th time since being initiated in 2006. When trucking industry lobbyists realized they miswrote language, however, it only took them several weeks to secure an immediate change to the law from their friend in the Senate.

This egregious exploitation of the appropriations process is an affront to truck safety and to the memory of the thousands of Americans, including my son Jeff, who were needlessly killed in large truck crashes. With the one year anniversary of the truck crash that killed the five Georgia Southern University nursing students falling one day after this vote, I want to convey my sincerest sympathy to the families of Emily Clark, Catherine “McKay” Pittman, Caitlyn N. Baggett, Abbie L. Deloach, and Morgan J. Bass. Their deaths should serve as grave reminder that lawmakers need to do much more to combat the role that issues like fatigue play in causing truck crashes, including reversing the provision that was just passed.

It is time for Senator Collins to stop holding this “back door” open for industry insiders to have uninhibited access to write rules and laws that are in their best interest. Instead, she should look at the facts, listen to general public, and use a transparent process.

Daphne Izer_2016 THUD Appropriations_Statement

Senate Prepares To Make Truck Safety Even Worse, Advocates Warn

The industry has given lawmakers language that will set 73-hour maximum work weeks for drivers.

04/19/2016 Michael McAuliff Senior Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Safety advocates are crying foul over yet another change to trucking safety rules that the industry is trying to slide though Congress with no hearings, no public evaluation and no scientific study.

The move comes just days after The Huffington Post revealed that large trucking industry groups have spent the last several years quietly circumventing normal legislative procedures to win safety rule concessions — even as truck crashes have been on the rise.

Normally, transportation policy is decided by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. But failing to make progress there, the trucking industry seems to have persuaded the Appropriations Committee to add its policy provisions to spending bills.

In this case, according to advocates who have been briefed about the bill, the industry wrote a provision that will place some sort of cap on truckers’ work, keeping either driving or working hours to 73 per week.

Exactly what the cap — which is about 30 hours more than most Americans work each week — would mean is not completely clear. Representatives for Democratic and Republican leaders on the committee declined to make the language available to HuffPost, saying it will be public after the full committee considers the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill for 2017 this Thursday.

“They are writing law in a spending bill. They are completely bypassing the Commerce Committee,” said Jackie Gillian, the president Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Gillian says the measure appears to have been written by the American Trucking Associations, a industry lobbying group. If the move succeeds, if could permanently change rest rules for increasingly beleaguered truck drivers — with no public input, no scientific evaluation and no discussion with regulators.

“It is like the worse of all possible worlds,” Gillian said. “The idea that the ATA has come in and written into law what they want done — I mean, can you imagine if this were the Federal Aviation Administration?”

The ATA did not say whether it wrote the new measure, though it offered comment on it and seemed to know what language it contained.

Ironically, the new provision is being dropped into a spending bill in an effort to correct confusion over another measure that was added through the appropriations committee, also without hearings or vetting.

The ATA first managed to get Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to write legislation in 2014 to temporarily suspend rest rules that took effect in July 2013, which required drivers to get two nights of sleep and capped their working hours at 70 per week.

Collins’ one-year suspension also required a study of making drivers get two nights of sleep in a row as part of their weekly mandated 34-hour break, known as a restart. But the industry was unsatisfied. It won further modifications in 2015 for this year’s spending bill that made the study more complicated, and said that if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not write new rules based on the study, the rules would revert to the old ones.

The problem was the language didn’t clarify which older rules it was referring to, meaning regulators could be turning back to mandates from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration that capped drivers’ hours at 60 a week — much more rest than under the modern system.

An ATA spokesman said the new 73-hour cap is meant to address this confusion.

“What the Senate language appears to do is retain the ability of drivers to reset their work weeks by taking an extended 34-hour off-duty period, with the recognition they are still limited to 73 hours of work (both driving and other work time) in seven calendar days,” Sean McNally said in an emailed comment.

“We appreciate the recognition by the Senate THUD subcommittee that the legislative drafting error from 2016 needs to be fixed,” he added.

McNally downplayed advocates’ concerns about over-tried truckers.

“ATA also knows that while professional truck drivers do not work wildly inflated weekly work hours that anti-truck groups claim, we understand the Subcommittee’s sensitivity to claims a handful of drivers might abuse the restart rule to work long hours in a week,” McNally said. “We look forward to working with members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to ensure that professional truck drivers continue to have the opportunity to get extended off-duty rest periods that reset their work week.”

The issue seems to have left Democratic Senators in a difficult position. While they would prefer the 2013 rules that gave truckers two nights of sleep, they also fear they don’t have the votes to block the 73-hour week.

Safety advocates told HuffPost that the ATA had tried to attach a 75-hour week to the Commerce Committee’s FAA bill that passed the Senate Thursday, but the measure was blocked.

Senate staff also declined to give the safety advocates copies of the new measure’s language, which would reveal specifically what the impact would be.

Gillian believed the reason is because the implications will not be good.

“They won’t release the sub-committee draft because they know what’s in there, and they know safety groups will go nuts,” Gillian said.

“This is their [the trucking industry’s] most bold and anti-safety measure yet,” she added.

Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/truck-safety-rules_us_57166a82e4b0018f9cbb3d28

Two People Critically Injured Due to Truck Crash in Licking County, Ohio

April 14, 2016

On April 12, 2016 at approximately 8:40 a.m., State Trooper Rodney A. Hart, 45, was parked in the right lane of I-70 east of Buckeye Lake helping Shanice J. Parker, 23, with a disabled car when they were both hit by a semi-truck.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Rodney A. Hart and Shanice J. Parker were both inside the cruiser when the semi-truck drifted into the right lane, drove through the flares, and hit the patrol car. Ms. Parker was airlifted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Trooper Rodney A. Hart was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark for his injuries and later released.

The truck driver, Eric Miller, 36, of Montrose, South Dakota, was not injured and was charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and driving a commercial vehicle with impaired alertness.

The crash is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Dead after Truck Crash in Henry County, KY

April 14, 2016

On April 12, 2016, at approximately 4:00 a.m., the driver, identified as Jordan Mefford, 23, and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Hayes, 26, were driving southbound on I-71 in Henry County when a tractor-trailer traveling north crossed the median and struck their vehicle.

Jacqueline Hayes was pronounced dead at the scene and Jordan Mefford was airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment, but later died that night due to his injuries.

The driver of the tractor trailer was also taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Tennessee Snow Plow and Salt Truck Drivers on the Clock Between 60-80 Hours Straight

Several “concerned employees” working for the Tennessee Department of Transportation sent an anonymous letter to the state’s DOT commissioner, which prompted an investigation that unearthed troubling information. Public records indicate that the state’s snow plow and salt truck drivers were on the road for upwards of 60 hours consecutively during and after several snow storms that occurred this year. Even though Federal laws exempts these drivers from Hours of Service rules during inclement weather so that the roads are cleared for first responders, the Tennessee DOT’s exploitation of this loophole is egregious. Lawmakers must do more to ensure that unsafe, tired truckers are on not the roads, especially in Tennessee where fatigue played a role in over 1,600 crashes last year.

Link to Article: http://wjhl.com/2016/03/14/public-records-from-tdot-reveals-snow-plow-drivers-worked-60-to-80-hours-without-sleep/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Pilot Fatigue is Not Acceptable, So Why is Tired Trucking?

Since the 2011 Hours of Service rules were first announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in December 2011, the trucking industry has launched annual attacks trying to weaken these regulations. That same year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced comprehensive changes to rules governing pilot scheduling. Interestingly, there was much less push back from those in the aviation industry to limit the amount of hours a pilot can work.

The FAA rule changes are based on scientific research and data regarding circadian rhythms. The FAA also limited flight time – when the plane is moving under its own power before, during, or after flight – to 8 or 9 hours depending on the start time of the pilot’s entire flight duty period. Additionally, the rule addresses potential cumulative fatigue by placing weekly and 28-day limits on the amount of time a pilot may be assigned to any type of flight duty.

As a result of the FAA’s updates, commercial pilots seldom experience a 14-hour workday, which is not the case for many truckers. Given that the odds of dying in a traffic accident is 1 in 14,000, while there is only a 1 in 4.7 million chance of dying on a commercial flight, it is surprising that more people do not share our sense of urgency in needing to address the amount of hours truckers can work daily, weekly, and monthly.

It is unfortunate that there has been so much pushback from the trucking industry to embrace much-needed regulations that will prevent fatigue-related truck crash deaths and injuries. TSC will continue to defend HOS rules to ensure that truck drivers are adequately rested so that driving a truck becomes as safe as flying a plane.

Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/airplanes-safer-than-buses-and-trucks-sleep_us_56f591d8e4b014d3fe2319e3

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Coal Truck Driver Fled Fatal Crash in Bell County, KY

A coal truck driver crossed the center line and sideswiped a pickup truck, causing it to flip over. Then, the coal truck continued driving and struck a Nissan Maxima, killing the driver and the passenger of the car. The truck driver was eventually arrested after he was located at a nearby hospital. These crashes should have never happened given the that coal truck driver was operating with a suspended/revoked CDL. TSC promotes enhancing enforcement efforts to ensure drivers like this are prevented from operating trucks and jeopardizing public safety.

Link: http://www.wbir.com/news/crime/ksp-truck-driver-fled-fatal-bell-county-crash/102231987   

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… FMCSA Shuts Down Wyoming Truck Company for Numerous Safety Violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an out-of-service order to Bar D Bar Trucking. The agency ordered the motor carrier to cease operations after an investigators found violations including:

  • Failing to conduct pre-employment background checks on drivers
  • Failing to ensure drivers were qualified before dispatching them
  • Failing to properly monitor drivers to ensure compliance with hours-of-service requirements
  • Failing to conduct random drug and alcohol tests on drivers
  • Using a driver who tested positive for a controlled substance
  • Failing to ensure its vehicles were regularly inspected, maintained and repaired and that they met minimum safety standards

Additionally, the FMCSA also found that the company’s owner-operator was driving without a valid commercial driver’s license and is subject to a lifetime CDL disqualification.

TSC supports the regulation of legal Schedule II prescription drugs, in particular, those which list drowsiness and fatigue as side-effects. We also support monitoring or eliminating the use of any substance that impairs cognitive or motor ability for operators of commercial motor vehicles.

Link: http://www.ttnews.com/articles/basetemplate.aspx?storyid=41367

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… New Study Highlights the Importance of Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disease afflicting at least 25 million adults in the U.S., and, if left untreated, will continue to be a pervasive threat to truck safety. According to a recent study on truck drivers with OSA, treatment is key in reducing their crash risks. One particularly effective method for treating OSA is the use of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy. Results of the study show that the rate of serious, preventable crashes was five times higher among truck drivers with OSA who failed to adhere to PAP therapy, compared with matched controls. This study reaffirms TSC’s position that requiring comprehensive sleep apnea screening for commercial vehicle drivers will reduce fatigue-related crashes.

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-03/aaos-crs030216.php

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Crash Avoidance Technologies May Have Saved Lives in ME Truck Crash

Two people were killed in Knox County, Maine last week after a tractor-trailer crossed the center line, corrected, fishtailed, rolled, and then took out four cars. It is still unclear as to what caused the driver cross lanes and overcorrect, but this is consistent with issues such as fatigue and distracted driving. Technologies like electronic stability control, lane departure warnings, and forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking systems would reduce the chances of these truck crashes as well as the severity of a crash. TSC will continue our education efforts with Members of Congress on the need to mandate these proven technologies.

Link to Article: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/03/18/two-killed-in-crash-in-knox-county/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

 

From the Truck Safety Coalition… FMCSA Restores Raw CSA Data to Its Website

Following the passage of the FAST Act, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) was prohibited from posting a carrier’s performance scores compiled under its Safety Management System (SMS) as well as the comparative scores among carriers. Upon making the required changes to become compliant with the new law, the agency restored the raw data the agency uses to compile safety scores for its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) initiative to its website. Publishing the raw data, once again, is beneficial to public safety and the right thing to do. The scores are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads

Link to CSA Webpage: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… National Academy of Sciences Releases Report with Recommendations for Studying Truck Driver Fatigue

The National Academy of Sciences released a report recommending how the FMCSA could improve its research and data collection efforts pertaining to the relationship between commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver fatigue and crashes. The study identifies obstacles to researching the link between fatigue and crashes, such as the inability to objectively measure fatigue and the difficulty of determining if drivers are actually resting during their mandated time-off. The study also acknowledged that commercial driver fatigue contributes to between 10 and 20 percent of the nearly 4,000 annual CMV crash fatalities. The NAS report, if utilized properly, will help the FMCSA improve their analysis of truck and bus driver fatigue moving forward. The report can be downloaded by clicking on the link below and following the instructions on the following page.

Link to Report: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/21921/commercial-motor-vehicle-driver-fatigue-long-term-health-and-highway-safety

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From The Truck Safety Coalition… Agencies Release ANPRM for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

On Wednesday, March 9th, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations (FMCSA) and Federal Rail Administration’s (FRA) issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding sleep apnea. The agencies will collect data and information concerning the potential consequences for safety presented by truck drivers with moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea. The agencies will be accepting public comments 89 days; the comment period ends on 06/08/2016. TSC will be commenting in support of this rulemaking.

Link to Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/03/10/2016-05396/evaluation-of-safety-sensitive-personnel-for-moderate-to-severe-obstructive-sleep-apnea

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

Truck Safety Coalition Responds to Release of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Entry Level Driver Training

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published today in the Federal Register requiring training for entry-level commercial motor vehicle drivers is a welcome development in the effort to enhance truck safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) release of the NPRM, which is based upon the negotiated rulemaking conducted by the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), comes 25 years after Congress passed a law requiring a rule on entry level driver training. While we are disappointed that this commonsense regulation has been stalled for so long, the Truck Safety Coalition looks forward to the safety benefits it will produce.

Ron Wood, a member of the ELDTAC and Truck Safety Coalition volunteer said, “This regulation will greatly enhance safety for truckers and the motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclist they drive alongside. Requiring commercial driver’s license applicants to train using a specific curriculum and behind-the-wheel training before they can attain a CDL will help make sure that new truck drivers are prepared to operate their vehicles. The theoretical component mandates training on fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions, and several other safety issues that a professional truck driver needs to address. The requisite 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training will further ensure that CDL applicants can translate their theoretical knowledge into practice for what they may encounter on our nation’s roads and bridges.”

“Although I am eager that this rulemaking will lead to more well-trained drivers, this achievement is bittersweet as it comes too late for some of us.” Wood said. “In 2004, my mother, my sister, and her three children were killed by an inadequately trained driver who fell asleep at the wheel; he killed a total of ten people and injured two others in this crash that occurred 13 years after Congress required action on entry level driver training.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition and also a member of the ELDTAC noted, “This negotiated rulemaking is a step in the right direction, but I would be remiss if I did not recognize the delay since the Congressional mandate was issued in the early nineties. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to see that the FMCSA proceeded with the rulemaking that the advisory committee reached through consensus. Aside from the theoretical curricula and behind-the-wheel hourly requirements, there are other much needed safety improvements included in this rulemaking. Establishing standards for FMCSA-approved driver-training providers and a registry of those providers will help the agency ensure that this rulemaking is properly enforced. The Truck Safety Coalition will continue to monitor this NPRM moving forward, and will also continue applying pressure to make sure that this rulemaking becomes a Final Rule as quickly as possible.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org) is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).  The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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From the Truck Safety Coalition… Senator Boxer Opposes Section 611 of FAA Bill

Senator Boxer forcefully opposed Section 611 of the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, a provision that would preempt the laws of more than 20 states and restrict states from enacting laws governing truck drivers’ meal and rest breaks that go beyond the federal standard. Senator Boxer noted that this “poison pill” provision will prevent the AIRR Act from moving forward in the Senate. She also stated that she will “use all the tools at [her] disposal to ensure that [Section 611] is not included in the FAA or any other legislation,” and that “this terrible anti-safety, anti-worker provision… has no place in any bill, which is why [the Senate] killed it in the highway bill.”

TSC supports the sentiments expressed by Senator Boxer, and we are thankful that we can count on her to stand up for truck safety in Congress.

Link to Article: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/270740-dem-senator-slams-trucking-poison-pill-in-faa-bill#.Vs9DypG5EoU.twitter

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… CVSA calls on FMCSA to Limit and Remove Exemptions for Motor Carriers

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sent a letter telling the FMCSA to remove and limit the number of exemptions the agency grants. The CVSA argues that FMCSA is granting excessive exemptions, which hinder enforcement efforts by creating inconsistency and confusion. TSC has been and continues to be firmly opposed to state or industry exemptions for this very reason. We support the CVSA’s stance on this issue, and also urge the FMCSA to reconsider and reduce the many exemptions it grants to carriers, particularly those pertaining to training and hours of service.

Link to Article: http://www.overdriveonline.com/cvsa-to-fmcsa-scale-back-on-hours-and-other-exemptions/

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… NTSB Report on Naperville Truck Crash Sheds Light on Truck Safety Issues

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded their investigation into a 2014 fatal truck crash in Naperville, IL and found the truck driver, the carrier, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to all be at fault.

At the time of the crash the truck driver had only slept 4½ hours in the preceding 37 hours. Investigators also found that the trucker routinely falsified his paper logbook in order to circumvent the hours of service requirements. As a result of driving tired, the trucker failed to stop in time, despite ample warnings, and needlessly killed and injured several people. TSC anticipates that the Final Rule for Electronic Logging Devices will prevent drivers like this from falsifying their logbooks, in turn reducing truck driver fatigue.

The motor carrier, DND International Inc., was classified as a “high risk” carrier, but was still allowed to operate. The “high risk” motor carrier failed to comply with federal regulations, particularly hours of service requirements, and should have either fixed the problem or been put out of service.

While the motor carrier should have done more, this crash also highlights deficiency in the FMCSA’s enforcement efforts. It was not until two months after the fatal crash that the FMCSA designated DND International Inc. as an “imminent danger”. Even worse, after the FMCSA’s declaration that they were an “imminent danger,” the company successfully appealed that and once again resumed operations. It was not until the motor carrier’s insurance company cancelled its coverage that this dangerous company was forced off the road.

This tragic crash underscores many of the reasons we work to make trucking safer. TSC will continue educating the public and our lawmakers about fatigued driving, weak Federal oversight, and how increasing minimum insurance requirements can lead to more insurers, like in this case, refusing to cover such an unsafe business.

Link: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Pages/2016_Naperville_BMG.aspx

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… Napolitano Amendment to Remove Sec. 611 of AIRR Act FAILS 27-31

Yesterday, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure voted to approve the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act. As you know, this federal aviation bill includes a provision that adversely impacts truck safety. Section 611 would preempt the laws of more than 20 states and would restrict states from enacting laws governing truck drivers’ meal and rest breaks that go beyond the federal standard. Unfortunately, an amendment offered by Rep. Grace Napolitano, which would have removed Section 611, failed by a vote of 27-31. We are thankful for her efforts as well as for the support of Reps Nadler (D-NY) and Norton (D-DC).  We will keep you updated about the status of this provision and let you what you can do to help remove it.

The Truck Safety Coalition Team

From the Truck Safety Coalition… OMB Clears Sleep Apnea ANPRM

On Wednesday, February 3rd, The Office of Management and Budget cleared the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrations (FMCSA) and Federal Rail Administration’s (FRA) joint advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding sleep apnea. The FMCSA and FRA are collecting data and information concerning the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway transportation. The agencies also request information about the potential economic impact and safety benefits associated with regulatory actions that would result in transportation workers in these positions, who exhibit multiple risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, undergoing evaluation by a healthcare professional with expertise in sleep disorders and subsequent treatment.

The TSC supports rulemaking for sleep apnea screening to ensure medical examiners are testing for and monitoring this fatigue related condition. We will continue working with Wanda Lindsay and the John Lindsay Foundation to promote public awareness of the sleep apnea problem in the commercial motor vehicle industry. We invite you to see the good work they are doing to improve truck safety by clicking here.

Link to Article: http://www.ccjdigital.com/sleep-apnea-pre-rule-clears-white-house-set-for-publication/

Trucker rest break proposal resurrected in aviation bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Buried in the fine print of an aviation bill introduced in the House this week is a provision that would prevent states from requiring trucking companies to schedule more generous rest breaks for their drivers than the federal government’s minimum standard.

Laws in 22 states require longer or more frequent rest or meal breaks for workers than the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s standard for truckers of a minimum half-hour break eight hours after reporting for duty.

The trucking industry challenged the state laws in court and lost. The industry lost again in December when a provision it backed to pre-empt the state laws in favor of the federal standard was taken out of a massive transportation bill at the insistence of Senate negotiators.

The provision has been quietly revived in a bill introduced this week by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to overhaul the Federal Aviation Administration.

Safety groups oppose the provision, which they say will be used by companies to pressure drivers to continue behind the wheel when they are tired or hungry.

Rich Pianka, acting general counsel for the American Trucking Associations, said federal law permits truckers to take breaks whenever they feel too tired to drive. The industry objects to the state laws because building in rest breaks on cross-country trips according to state-by-state requirements even if drivers don’t want to use the breaks disrupts planning, he said.

“It’s really not about safety,” Pianka said.

It’s really about money, according to James Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The trucking industry wants drivers to be behind the wheel as much as possible for the time they’re being paid, Hoffa said in a statement. In addition to rest breaks, the provision would also limit how truck drivers are paid, and not compensate them for safety procedures like performing pre-trip inspections, he said.

“It overrules the fundamental principle that all workers should be paid for the time they work,” he said.

Joan Lowy – Associated Press

Link: http://www.richmond.com/business/ap/article_2cc5f928-0f20-56fb-a6b9-530df123a89f.html

Follow Joan Lowy at twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy. Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joan-lowy

NTSB’s 2016 Most Wanted List Released

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its annual Top 10 Most Wanted List (attached), which represents the agency’s advocacy priorities. TSC agrees with the NTSB on these much-need safety changes, six of which relate to trucking. We have seen progress on some of these issues, but there is still more work to be done.

Reduce Fatigue-Related Crashes

  • Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule was released in December 2015, which requires ELDs on trucks.
  • TSC has been and continues to work towards enhancing Hours-of-Service requirements and reducing truckers’ allowable hours.
  • TSC supports rulemaking that would require truck drivers to undergo sleep apnea screening.

Promote Availability of Collision Avoidance Technologies in Highway Vehicles

  • TSC wants mandatory installation of forward collision avoidance and mitigation (F-CAM) technology on all new large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
  • NHTSA estimates show that:
    • Current generation F-CAM systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year.
    • Future generation F-CAM systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually.
  • Research indicates that every year a full implementation of F-CAM is delayed:
    • 166 people will unnecessarily die.
    • 8,000 individuals will suffer injuries.

End Substance Impairment in Transportation

  • TSC is awaiting a final rule for a drug clearinghouse, which would create a federal database to track and store information about CDL holders who have drug and alcohol-related incidents on their records.
  • The use of any substance, including Schedule II drugs, that impairs cognitive or motor ability should be monitored or eliminated for operators of commercial motor vehicles.

Require Medical Fitness for Duty (See Reduce Fatigue and End Substance Impairment sections)

  • 69% of long-haul truck drivers (LHTDs) are obese compared to 31% in the adult working population.
  • 17% of LHTDs are morbidly obese.

Expand Use of Recorders to Enhance Safety

  • Event Data Recorders (EDR) are devices that record information related to highway vehicle crash.
  • EDRs record technical vehicle and occupant information for a brief period of time before, during and after a crash. For example, EDRs may record speed, steering, braking, acceleration, seatbelt use, and, in the event of a crash, force of impact and whether airbags deployed.
  • TSC supports standardizing and mandating EDRs in all large trucks.

Disconnect from Deadly Distractions

  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publish a final rule in 2010 that prohibits texting by commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers while operating in interstate commerce and imposes sanctions, including civil penalties and disqualification from operating CMVs in interstate commerce.
  • Recent research commissioned by FMCSA shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) is 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who engage in texting while driving than for those who do not.

NTSB 2016 Top 10 Most Wanted

Link to NTSB Website: http://www.ntsb.gov/safety/mwl/Pages/default.aspx

 

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.

###

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

$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

Democratic Senators Voice Concerns Over Safety Language in Highway Bill

November 12, 2015

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Reid:

We write to express our concerns over troubling provisions that were considered or included by the House of Representatives during its action on the surface transportation bill.

This long-term legislation could set federal transportation policy for the next six years. The final transportation bill should advance safety, not roll back important safety and consumer protection policies.

Rather than advancing important safety issues, proposals from the House could erode safety, short-change consumer privacy, undermine environmental and energy security measures, and erect roadblocks to holding industry accountable. Making the necessary investments in our nation’s infrastructure – a goal we strongly support -should not come at the expense of weaker safety and consumer protections. For those reasons, we urge you to prevent any rollback of safety or consumer protections relative to the Senate-passed transportation bill in order to avoid any potential erosion of support for the final bill.

Problematic provisions considered during House action on the bill include:

  • Lower funding levels for critical safety and infrastructure programs;
  • Provisions that insulate companies from liability or limit discoverability and withhold information from victims of accidents across transportation modes, including hiding information that could help the public make more informed choices about safety – for example , through new FOIA exemptions;
  • Provisions that provide et immunity from prosecution by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for committing unfair or deceptive acts as long as an auto company maintains a “privacy policy,” no matter how inadequate or undecipherable;
  • Provisions that provide fuel economy or greenhouse gas emissions credits for the inclusion of V2V, crash avoidance and other safety technologies, eroding the oil savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions these credits are intended to incentivize;
  • Provisions that give automakers that submit and comply with their own secret cybersecurity “best practices” exemptions from civil penalties and FTC enforcement actions, but prevent an automaker’s failure to submit such a plan from being used as evidence against them in a legal action;
  • Provisions that waive environmental and safety requirements for small-volume automobile manufacturers;
  • Provisions that prevent the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from bringing enforcement actions and prevent courts from considering non-compliance with voluntary guidelines issued by the Department of Transportation as evidence of liability, but allow industry to use its own compliance with those guidelines as exonerating evidence in the same court or NHTSA enforcement proceeding;
  • Provisions that stifle or stop important safety regulations, including minimum insurance for truck drivers;
  • Provisions that make exemptions or are giveaways to the trucking and auto industry, including requirements that could limit the publication of life-saving warnings, without completing proper study or including requirements to mitigate the safety impacts; and
  • Provisions that hamper truck safety, including requiring younger truck drivers on our

Some of these provisions were wisely not included in the bill passed by the House.

Nonetheless, we remain concerned that these issues could inappropriately reemerge for consideration as both bodies continue to move forward toward a final agreement. We note that the inclusion in a conference report of any provision not contained in either the House or Senate text is a violation of Senate Rule XXVIII, and we ask that you follow the spirit of that rule in any final agreement. Furthermore, we urge you to press against House-passed provisions that would worsen safety relative to the Senate bill.

We know you share our concerns for the safety of our constituents, and we ask for your support to ensure that the issues listed above are not included in any final agreement as Congress works on a long-term surface transportation bill. We look forward to continuing to work

together to pass a responsible bill with sufficient funding that provides states, municipalities and stakeholders with certainty so they can tackle long-term projects and rebuild our infrastructure. Together, we must resist efforts to use this important legislation as a vehicle for controversial provisions that undermine public health and safety.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey

Bill Nelson

Richard Blumenthal

Patrick Leahy

Al Franken

Mazie K. Hirono

Bernard Sanders

Dianne Feinstein

Sheldon Whitehouse

Maria Cantwell

Tom Udall

Jack Reed

Elizabeth Warren

Link to Letter: Democratic Senators – Safety Language Concerns

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees on Safety Study of Double 33s

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees

To Study Safety Effects of Double 33 Foot Trailers by Margin of 56-31

ARLINGTON, VA (November 10, 2015) – Today, reason prevailed and the U.S. Senate voted in favor of Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Motion to Instruct Conferees to require a safety study of Double 33s before mandating these longer trucks on our roads. This nearly 2-1 vote was a major win for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, public health and safety groups, and the American public. We are pleased that the Senate employed a data-driven approach that allows for further study on the safety effects of Double 33s as well as an opportunity for public input.

In voting for this measure, Senators listened to the Department of Transportation recommendation that there should be no increase to truck size or weight because of insufficient data to support such a change. This was the right move, especially given the steadily worsening trends of truck crash fatalities and injuries. Congress should understand the impact of the length increase on pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as well as the additional wear on our nation’s roads and bridges before mandating them. It is only logical to study this truck configuration further, which we already know takes 22-feet longer to stop and have a six-foot wider turning radius than Double 28s.

As the House and Senate head to conference to resolve the differences between their competing versions of the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), there is still work to be done to improve the safety title of the final legislation. We ask negotiators to remove provisions that allow teenagers to drive trucks across state lines as well as those that hinder rulemaking to increase the minimum insurance required by large trucks. Rejecting measures to increase truck size and weight are a step in the right direction; however, allowing the aforementioned safety rollbacks to remain in the final bill would be a step backwards for safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the congressional support for truck crash survivors, the families of truck crash victims, and for our mission to promote safety. We want to specifically thank Senators Wicker and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their outstanding leadership on this issue.

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker MTI (Double 33s)

FairWarning Article: Big Trucks, Big Bucks

Big Trucks, Big Bucks

Heavy-Spending Trucking Industry Pushes Congress to Relax Safety Rules

truck-capitol-v3-01Big rig crashes kill nearly 4,000 Americans each year and injure more than 85,000. Since 2009, fatalities involving large trucks have increased 17 percent. Injuries have gone up 28 percent.

Given these numbers, you might expect Congress to be agitating for tighter controls on big rigs. In fact, many members are pushing for the opposite – looser restrictions on the trucking industry and its drivers.

The proposals represent a wish list of the trucking industry, including allowing significantly longer and heavier trucks, and younger drivers. The industry spends heavily on lobbying and campaign contributions, giving largely to Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.

Supporters insist the proposals actually will improve public safety by cutting the number of trucks on the road while also helping the trucking industry address a shortage of drivers. But critics reject the safety claims as ridiculous, saying the proposals would enrich the trucking industry, not protect the public.

Truck safety advocates – many of whom have lost loved ones in big rig crashes – are dismayed over what they describe as the industry’s efforts to use Congress to achieve dangerous policy changes.

“There’s no logical reason why this would make our streets safer,” said Laurie Higginbotham of Memphis, Tenn. She said her 33-year-old son, Michael, was killed when his Jeep Cherokee plowed into a tractor-trailer making an illegal U-turn on a dark stretch of road in November 2014.

highway deaths.xls

One of Higginbotham’s senators, Republican Lamar Alexander, has taken more than $112,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2009. Twice this year, he’s voted for bills that include provisions loosening rules on big rigs.

Higginbotham said she tried asking the Tennessee senator’s staff how he thought these changes would help the public, but didn’t get very far. “They didn’t have an answer, other than ‘Well, maybe we’ll have less trucks’” on the road, she said. Alexander didn’t respond to requests for comment.

One of the proposals he voted for – a measure considered particularly dangerous by safety advocates — would allow trucks nationwide to haul two 33-foot trailers, up from a current limit of 28 feet. That’s the equivalent of an eight-story building turned on its side and rumbling down the highway.

Other changes sought by the industry would:

  • Raise the top weight of big rigs, including cargo, from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds.
  • Give states the ability to lower the minimum age of 21 for interstate truck drivers, putting drivers as young as 18 behind the wheel.
  • Effectively eliminate a requirement that truckers who work long weeks spend two consecutive nights resting before heading back on the road.
  • Halt efforts to revise 30-year-old minimum requirements for insurance for big rigs.
  • Remove safety ratings of trucking firms from the Internet, where they are now available for public inspection.

Sean-McNally---quoteboxIt’s unclear if all, or any, of the proposals will be approved, but several have passed out of the House or Senate as parts of larger appropriations or authorization bills.

What is clear is that the measures have gained traction after concentrated campaign giving by the trucking industry. Since the beginning of 2009, trucking interests — including Federal Express, UPS and the American Trucking Associations — have spent more than $19.6 million on campaign contributions to members of Congress, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

More than 70 percent of that money went to Republicans.

Trucking interests also spent more than $181 million on lobbying over that period, with FedEx alone accounting for $98 million.

Said Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety: “We have special trucking interests pushing legislation that will result in overweight, oversized trucks being driven by overworked, underage truck drivers that are inadequately insured. All this with the backdrop of truck crash deaths and injuries climbing significantly and steadily.”

The trucking industry is divided over some of the proposals. For example, Federal Express and UPS want twin 33-foot trailers to be approved, but small, independent operators oppose the measure because it would require them to purchase new equipment. The rail industry, a competitor of the trucking industry, also opposes some of the proposals.

“We believe that if the [proposals] come to pass that they will improve, not degrade, safety,” said Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, which formally supports many, but not all, of the proposals before Congress. “Our member carriers are strong on safety,” he said.

Longer trucks, less rest?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the branch of the Transportation Department that regulates truck safety, declined to comment on the proposals before Congress. The trucking industry claims the proposals have been vetted, pointing largely to studies funded by the industry itself.

Jackie-Gillan-quoteCritics, however, say the proposals have not been subjected to review by impartial experts. They say steamrolling looser restrictions through Congress, with heavy lobbying and contributions, is not the way to regulate public safety. More than one safety advocate compares the struggle to “David versus Goliath.”

“It would be almost easy to give up,” said Kim Telep of Harrisburg, Penn. She said she became a safety advocate after her husband, Brad, was struck and killed by a big rig on the New Jersey turnpike in 2012. Telep says she’s tried lobbying Congress for tougher truck safety laws, but got a chilly response. “Sometimes they sit there with this blank stare on their face. And I’m like, ‘Have you no empathy?’ ” she said.

Telep’s state, Pennsylvania, is home to Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which has jurisdiction over road safety. Shuster has taken more than $335,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2009.

In June, he voted for a massive transportation, housing and urban development appropriations bill that includes several of the trucking industry’s proposals. That transportation appropriations bill contains the proposals to allow longer trucks, eliminate the two-night rest period and scuttle a study that could lead to higher big rig insurance rates. Through an aide, Shuster declined to comment.

top-recipientsThirty-nine states prohibit trucks from hauling double 33-foot trailers. The legislation would preempt those state bans on double 33s, permitting trucks of that length to travel across the country.

“It would eliminate the number of truck trips by about 6.6 million and eliminate miles traveled by 1.3 billion,” said McNally of the American Trucking Associations. “And trips not taken, miles not traveled, means crashes not had,” he added. He put the number of truck crashes likely to be eliminated at 900 a year. McNally’s figures came from research by the Coalition for Efficient and Responsible Trucking, an organization of nine major trucking firms, including FedEx and UPS, pushing authorization of double 33s nationwide.

Critics say authorizing bigger or heavier trucks has never resulted in fewer trucks on the road and there’s no reason to believe that will happen now, especially with the popularity of direct shipping through services like Amazon.

The same House transportation appropriations bill also would effectively kill a requirement that truckers take two consecutive nights to rest after long work weeks. Federal law requires that a trucker who works 60 hours in seven days, or 70 hours in eight days, rest for a minimum of 34 consecutive hours before going back to work.

Congress in 2014 already temporarily suspended a provision in the rest requirement that assured drivers of getting time off two nights in a row. The appropriations bill would require a study validating the need for the two nights of rest rule before it could be restored. Critics say the requirements for the study are tougher than before and could be impossible to achieve.

Truck safety advocates say the net effect of removing the two-night rest period is to lengthen a trucker’s maximum weekly work from 70 hours to 82, interfering with drivers’ ability to get a quality sleep. Industry supporters say it’s virtually impossible for drivers to work 82 hours under these rules.

The measure approved by Congress that suspended the two-night rest period was introduced in 2014 by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The senator, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, also voted for a version of the appropriations bill that would impose toughened requirements before the suspension can be lifted.

Collins, who has accepted more than $70,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“We’re very dismayed by her. She’s been on trucking’s side for a while,” said Daphne Izer of Lisbon, Maine. In 1993, Izer said her son, who was a senior in high school, and three of his friends were killed when a trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel smashed into the car they were in.

Another appropriations provision could lead to a cutoff in funding for federal efforts to increase minimum insurance requirements for big rigs.

Since 1985, large trucks have been required to carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. Safety advocates say it is no longer high enough. However, Scott Grenerth, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the costs associated with most truck crashes are actually less than $750,000 while most insurance companies already require trucks to carry liability insurance of $1 million. As a result, the association argues, there is no need to raise the minimum.

Younger drivers

Tucked into a separate transportation authorization bill, already approved by the Senate, is the pilot program to lower the minimum age of interstate truckers. Current federal rules prohibit truckers under the age of 21 from driving big rigs across state lines. However, 49 states allow truck drivers as young as 18 to operate big rigs within their state borders, even though research shows that young truck drivers have more fatal crashes than more experienced drivers.

Lisa Shrum

Republican U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska has proposed a six-year pilot program that would allow states that border each other to form voluntary compacts permitting truckers as young as 18 to drive from one state to the other. Fischer, who has taken more than $96,000 from trucking interests since the beginning of 2011, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The trucking industry says this proposal is critical because it is facing a shortage of drivers, and many young people who might want to become professional drivers can’t wait until age 21 to start their careers. Safety advocates, however, say the proposal is courting danger.

“My son at 18, I don’t think he would have been mature enough to drive a truck,” said Dorothy Wert of Montrose, Penn. “It’s not as easy as people think driving those big trucks,” Wert said.

Wert says her husband, David, was a truck driver for 35 years. Early one morning in May 2011, she explained, her husband was driving down a dark highway. Up ahead, an inexperienced truck driver had broken down, leaving his truck in the middle of the road, with no warning signals or flares. Dorothy Wert said her husband, driving 65 miles per hour, didn’t see the other truck until the last moment. He swerved, but hit his gas tank on the other truck, igniting his rig on fire.

When he was pulled from the wreckage, David Wert had lost his feet and his skin was severely burned from the neck down. He later died.

‘I feel betrayed’

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri voted for the two major bills containing trucking provisions to authorize longer trucks, eliminate the two-night rest period, stop the insurance study and permit younger drivers.

Since the beginning of 2009, he has accepted more than $229,000 in campaign contributions from the trucking industry. But he also took an interest in the story of Lisa Shrum, a Fayette, Mo., resident who says she lost her mother and stepfather in a crash involving a FedEx truck in 2006.

Roy Blunt

Shrum says she visited the Capitol twice this summer and on both occasions had brief conversations with Blunt about the accident and her opposition to the proposals pushed by trucking firms. During the second conversation, she says, the senator asked her to stop by his office to discuss the matter further. Shortly thereafter, on that very same day, she says Blunt voted for one of the bills containing trucking provisions.

“I feel betrayed,” Shrum says she told a Blunt aide when she went to his office later. “It makes me wonder, if I had $500,000 to throw at him what would he do?”

Blunt did not respond to requests for comment.

Congress has yet to act on other trucking bills. In March, Republican Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania introduced a bill to remove truck safety ratings from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website. In September, Republican Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin introduced a bill to increase the maximum allowable weight of trucks from 80,000 to 91,000 pounds, provided the heavier trucks have a sixth axle and that states also authorize their use.

Since the beginning of 2009, Barletta and Ribble have accepted campaign donations from the trucking industry totaling more than $52,000 and $122,000, respectively.

Barletta said in a statement that he introduced his bill because “the safety scores are flawed.” His position was backed up at least partly by the Government Accountability Office. The scores are calculated using data collected from roadside inspections and crash investigations, but the GAO discovered that most carriers’ vehicles are inspected infrequently, yielding too little information to produce reliable scores. The scores are available at https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/sms/.

top-donorsTruck safety advocates, however, say if the scores need to be fixed, they should be fixed while they’re still online. They say they’re afraid if the scores are taken down, it will be impossible to put new ones up later.

Ribble, meanwhile, said in a statement that he introduced his bill to raise allowable weights for loaded trucks to 91,000 pounds because trucks have been forced “to leave dairy farms and paper mills in my district only partially full” to avoid exceeding current weight limits. He said his bill “would allow us to have fewer total trucks vying for space on crowded roads.”

John Runyan, executive director of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, which includes 200 shippers and other associations promoting Ribble’s bill, said the legislation will improve safety because the heavier trucks will have an extra axle and additional brakes.

In mid-October, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a $325 billion highway bill that includes proposals to take the safety scores off the Internet and permit truck drivers as young as 19½ years old to drive between states.

‘A sad state of affairs’

Officials from several states have urged Congress to reject these proposals.

In June, the Mississippi Transportation Commission passed a resolution opposing the push to preempt the state’s ban on double 33s, to extend truckers’ work weeks to 82 hours and to block higher insurance minimums for big rigs. Even so, four Republican Congressmen from Mississippi – Reps. Trent Kelly, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo, and Sen. Thad Cochran – voted for bills including those provisions. (Cochran originally voted against the amendment to authorize double 33s, but later voted in favor of the bill itself when it included that provision.)

top-lobbyistsCochran received more than $76,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009 while Palazzo got $10,000 and Harper, $8,000. Kelly, elected in June, has not received any money from the industry, according to the latest figures from the Center for Responsive Politics. Harper, through a spokesman, declined to comment, while Palazzo and Kelly didn’t respond to requests for comment. A Cochran aide said the appropriations bill included other elements “of interest to Mississippi and the nation” besides double 33s.

Also in June, two state senators in Pennsylvania wrote to all 20 members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to oppose an increase in federal limits on truck size and weight. Nine Pennsylvania representatives voted for an appropriations bill that authorized double 33s and nine voted against, while the state’s two senators have not yet had a chance to vote on the proposal.

In Illinois, state senators approved a resolution rejecting an increase in truck size and weight. But their Republican U.S. senator, Mark Kirk, cast a committee vote for an appropriations bill including a provision for double 33s. Kirk has taken more than $38,000 from the trucking industry since the beginning of 2009. Kirk didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Safety advocates say they’re afraid their message will be ignored. Said Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, Fla., the newly elected vice president of the Truck Safety Coalition: “It’s not looking good for safety people. I think most of this stuff is going to pass.”

Mathis said her 23-year-old son and his new wife were killed in a truck crash on their way home from their honeymoon in 2004. Mathis said the newlyweds were stopped in traffic on the freeway in Florida when a trucker fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended their car, which became pinned under the truck and exploded.

Mathis, a determined advocate for stronger safety standards, said that in the days after the crash, her home was filled with flowers from both her son’s wedding and funeral. She cries when she remembers visiting her son’s newly purchased home after the crash and finding her daughter-in-law’s wedding dress still laid out on the bed.

“We just have our stories and our facts, but we don’t have any money,” she says. “It’s a sad state of affairs.”

Article Link: http://www.fairwarning.org/2015/10/trucks/

Jennifer Tierney Letter to the Editor: Bill should focus on safety

It has been more than 30 years since my father, James Mooney, was killed in a large truck crash. He was driving on a dark rural road at a time when truck conspicuity was barely a consideration. I see too many crashes, like the one that occurred in Pierce County, Nebraska, this past June, in which the truck driver rear-ended a stationary vehicle, which constantly reminds me of the dangers posed by large trucks and underscores legislators’ inaction to improve truck safety.

The recently passed long-term Senate highway bill is a step back, and the greatest assault to public safety on our roads since losing my father (“Work together on roads, U.S. transportation chief says in Nebraska,” Aug. 12). While I support a “robust freight policy,” it should not come at the expense of more deaths and injuries. Provisions in the bill, like allowing 18- to 20-year-old interstate [truck] drivers and permitting greater exemptions to hours-of-service requirements do not advance public safety. Actual safety advances, like mandating forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking systems on all large trucks, should be a key component in the re-authorization bill.

The current Senate legislation does not reflect a consideration for safety, nor a consideration for families. Lawmakers should realize the lasting effects of a six-year surface transportation re-authorization bill and engage in a thoughtful deliberation about a “robust” safety title.

Jennifer Tierney, Kernersville, N.C

Link to Article: http://m.journalstar.com/news/opinion/mailbag/letter-bill-should-focus-on-safety/article_03cf190f-d3d4-5347-b0de-73f626881b0d.html?mobile_touch=true

NY Times Op-Ed The Trucks Are Killing Us

By HOWARD ABRAMSON AUG. 21, 2015

ACCIDENTS like the one that critically injured the comedian Tracy Morgan, killed his friend and fellow comedian James McNair, known as Jimmy Mack, and hurt eight others on the New Jersey Turnpike last year are going to continue to happen unless Congress stops coddling the trucking industry.

More people will be killed in traffic accidents involving large trucks this year than have died in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years, if past trends hold true. And still Congress continues to do the trucking industry’s bidding by frustrating the very regulators the government has empowered to oversee motor carriers.

In recent months, Congress has pursued a number of steps to roll back safety improvements ordered by federal regulators. It has pushed to allow truck drivers to work 82 hours a week, up from the current 70 hours over eight days, by suspending a rule that drivers take a 34-hour rest break over two nights in order to restart their work week; discouraged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from investing in wireless technology designed to improve the monitoring of drivers and their vehicles; and signaled its willingness to allow longer and heavier trucks despite widespread public opposition. Congress also wants to lower the minimum age for drivers of large trucks that are allowed to travel from state to state to 18, from 21.

All of these concessions to the trucking industry have gained traction in Congress even though the industry has consistently resisted safety improvements. The death toll in truck-involved crashes rose 17 percent from 2009 to 2013. Fatalities in truck-involved crashes have risen four years in a row, reaching 3,964 in 2013, the latest data available. Those crashes are killing not only car drivers but also, during 2013 alone, 586 people who were truck drivers or passengers.

And while a more than 3 percent drop in car deaths over the same period was largely accomplished by technological improvements like airbags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, the trucking industry has resisted most of those safety devices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost to the economy of truck and bus crashes to be $99 billion.

A number of changes that will inevitably make us all less safe are tucked into the pending highway bill, currently stalled because of differences between the House and Senate versions. In fact, Congress has failed to adopt a comprehensive highway funding bill for years, relying instead on dozens of temporary extensions since 2009 to keep any semblance of a federal road construction program moving. In July, the House and Senate passed another temporary patch, good through the end of October.

The crash involving Tracy Morgan shows why Congress needs to toughen its oversight of trucking, not loosen it. The driver who caused the crash was in a modern 18-wheeler that was well maintained and managed, owned and operated by Walmart. As detailed in the causation report on the crash released earlier this month, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the driver had been on duty for about 13 and a half hours; federal rules allow a 14-hour workday. About a mile before the crash, the driver ignored work-zone warning signs on the New Jersey Turnpike of likely delays ahead. About a half-mile later, the posted speed limit dropped to 45 m.p.h. from the usual 65, which the driver also ignored.

Mr. Morgan’s Mercedes van was moving at less than 10 m.p.h. because of the construction. The truck driver, fatigued and slow to react, according to the N.T.S.B., was unable to stop in time, and slammed into the van, turning it on its side and jamming the passenger door closed. According to the board, if the driver had slowed to 45 when warned to do so, he should have been able to stop before crashing. But before his official work day began, the driver, the board found, had spent 12 hours driving his own vehicle from his home in Georgia to pick up his truck at a Walmart facility in Delaware, and had been awake for 28 consecutive hours at the time of the crash.

Large trucks are disproportionately involved in fatal accidents. While heavy trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of total miles traveled in the United States during 2013, according to federal data, the N.T.S.B. recently reported that they were involved in one in eight of all fatal accidents and about one-quarter of all fatal accidents in work zones, like the crash that injured Mr. Morgan.

Many accidents involve trucks rear-ending vehicles that have stopped or slowed because of accidents or roadwork. Technology to prevent or lessen the impact of such crashes is available from all of the manufacturers of heavy trucks in North America. Yet only about 3 percent of the Class 8 trucks — the heaviest ones, including most tractor-trailers — are equipped with any version of this collision-avoidance technology, according to safety advocates.

Most automakers now include or offer anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, airbags and collision-avoidance devices in their vehicles, and the technology is included in many of the heavy trucks sold in Europe. But the United States trucking industry has largely avoided using the safety technologies available for vehicles sold here, because of their cost.

The truck that injured Mr. Morgan was one of the few tractor-trailers that had a collision-detection system. But the N.T.S.B. was unable to prove that the system issued a warning to the driver. The board said it could not fully assess the performance of the device because the unit does not store enough system performance data. (The board has suggested all safety-system makers should ensure that their products store more data in the future.)

The trucking industry, through its chief trade group, the American Trucking Associations, insists that it needs longer work weeks and bigger vehicles so that more trucks will not be needed on the road, which it says could result in more accidents. That logic is laughable, but Congress seems to be buying it.

The industry also bases its opposition to safety-rule changes on money, saying that increasing costs will hurt profits and raise rates for shippers and, ultimately, consumers.

Higher safety standards and shorter work weeks may increase freight costs, but some of those standards should save carriers money in the long run through lower insurance rates and damage claims. And since trucking generates more than $700 billion a year in revenue, according to the trucking association, a small increase in safety costs would not put a large financial strain on carriers.

The trucking industry is vital to the nation’s economic well-being — it carried almost 69 percent of all domestic freight last year — and its executives have done an excellent job in keeping costs down. But Congress must make it clear to all parties that safety has to be a higher priority than penny-pinching.

Congress must pass a comprehensive highway funding bill and ensure that safety regulators have sufficient resources and political support to do what must be done in order to reduce the continuing carnage on our highways.

Correction: August 26, 2015

An Op-Ed article on Friday about trucking incorrectly described a recent change to a federal regulation. To restart their workweek week, drivers must take a rest break of 34 hours; Congress suspended a requirement that the 34 hours include two consecutive early morning periods. (There was no rule requiring drivers to take a two-day rest break each week.)

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/22/opinion/the-trucks-are-killing-us.html?_r=0

Kim Telep Letter to the Editor

Federal studies affirm dangers of longer truck trailers | Letter

I am writing in response to Mark Rosenker’s July 28 letter, “Longer truck trailers have a good safety record.”  Nearly three years ago my husband Brad, a truck driver, was killed by a fatigued truck driver who swerved off the road and struck Brad while he was standing on the shoulder. Sadly, this crash is not unique. All too often I read about a construction worker hit by a semi in a work zone, or a family crushed in their minivan simply because the truck driver did not apply the brakes soon enough.

Yet some people in Washington believe it’s time to increase the length of double tractor trailers, from 28 feet per trailer to 33 feet. Proponents of the increase rely on one study — industry-funded junk science that claims these longer trucks to be safer. That is false.

In 2015, the National Transportation Safety Board highlighted regulators’ failure to implement more than 100 recommendations to improve truck safety, something the NTSB has long considered a top priority. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended no increases in truck size, citing insufficient data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s truck size and weight study.

The study did however, affirm the dangers of longer trucks. The length increase would result in a six-foot-wider turning radius and an additional stopping distance of 22 feet. The wider turning radius could be the difference between life and death for a bicyclist next to a truck. The stopping distance of 22 feet could be the difference in a family getting home.

These differences could be what prompts yet another wife or mother to write a letter to the editor on truck safety.

Kim Telep
Harrisburg

Link to Article: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/07/federal_studies_affirm_the_dan.html

Op-Ed: Federal transportation bill shouldn’t sacrifice public highway safety

By Roy Crawford – August 19, 2015

Whenever I read about a fatal large-truck crash, my heart goes out to the families of those whose lives were ended too soon.

I know what they are going through. More than 20 years ago my son Guy was killed in a crash with a grossly overloaded coal truck. This is why crashes like the chain-reaction crash in May on Interstate 75 in Rockcastle County, which killed two young men, hit especially close to home.

As an engineer I acknowledge the need to improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure. As a father and a forensic engineer who has reconstructed many fatal truck crashes, however, I cannot justify the safety sacrifices in the Senate’s long-term highway bill.

For instance, the provision that allows 18-to-20-year-old interstate truck drivers may please several motor carriers, but it deprives Kentuckians of the safety we are entitled to on our roads.

This should be especially concerning given the fact that WKYT found that the number of truck crashes involving out of state drivers is rising in Kentucky, spiking from 25 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2013.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate highway and transportation bill contains language that would make it easier for groups of motor carriers to acquire exemptions from hours of service requirements, while at the same time making it more difficult for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to engage in rule-making on critical safety regulations.

The current Senate bill forsakes several clear opportunities to enhance safety. Legislators should use this opportunity to craft a strong safety title that requires large trucks to be equipped with lifesaving technologies, like forward collision and mitigation braking systems and improved rear underride guards. Mandating these measures would reduce crashes and the severity of crashes that do occur.

I agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was key to negotiating the transportation bill, that with a long-term highway bill “we can rebuild our infrastructure… and improve traffic safety for Kentuckians.” Yet, the DRIVE Act fails to accomplish this dual goal.

It is vital that lawmakers go back to the drawing board and include meaningful safety reforms and remove dangerous rollbacks before enacting a six-year surface transportation reauthorization bill.

Link to Op-Ed: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/08/19/3996161/federal-transportation-bill-shouldnt.html

Daphne Izer Statement In Response to NTSB Morgan Crash

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

In response to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Hearing on Tracy Morgan Crash

August 11, 2015

Over 20 years ago, my husband Steve and I founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of his 80,000 pound truck, killing our son Jeff, three other innocent teenagers and permanently injuring one more. I am saddened that despite years of advocating to prevent overworked and overtired truckers from jeopardizing public safety on our roads, the economic interests of the trucking industry have prevailed. I am not surprised, however, that once again a Wal-Mart truck has forced other families, like the McNairs and the Morgans, to deal with the devastating effects of preventable, fatigue-related truck crashes.

According to the NTSB, the probable cause of the Cranbury crash was the Wal-Mart truck driver’s fatigue due to his failure to obtain sleep before reporting for duty, which resulted in his delayed reaction to slowing for the stopped traffic ahead. The truck driver had been on duty 13.5 hours, with more driving planned. An examination of his work schedule indicated he had four hours of sleep opportunity in the 33 hours prior and had been awake in excess of 28 hours at the time of the crash. He had driven 12 hours in his personal vehicle from his residence in Georgia to Delaware where he began driving commercially. The truck approached the slowed traffic warning area at a speed of 65 mph, 20 miles above the posted work zone speed limit. The roadway was straight with an unobstructed line of sight and taillights were visible for more than half a mile. The forward collision avoidance technology available in Wal-Mart trucks only apply the brakes when the truck operates in cruise control; better, available versions of this technology apply brakes regardless of whether the truck is in cruise control. Additionally, the technology in the Wal-Mart truck failed to store the data in a retrievable manner.

Forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems are proven lifesaving technology for which the NTSB believes the industry is long overdue. The NTSB notes that they made the same recommendation following a fatal crash in Oklahoma several years prior. They believe large scale inaction by motor carriers underscores the need for a mandate rather than waiting for members to act of their own volition. The Truck Safety Coalition has already petitioned NHTSA to require FCAM technology on all large trucks.

There are several ways in which elected officials could end driver fatigue, but our legislators continue to ignore the problem. Electronic logging devices should be required in all commercial vehicles. Unfortunately legislative measures, like the Collins’ amendment that remove a truck driver’s weekend and another that allows greater exemptions to hours of service (HOS) requirements, take us two steps back. Permitting truck drivers to operate for up to 82 hours per week and removing the restart provision, as well as allowing groups of motor carriers to apply for permanent exemptions to HOS requirements will weaken enforcement efforts, and ultimately erode safety.

In response to a recently released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) study on the HOS changes that were made in 2011 and implemented in 2013, the agency stated, “during the nearly 18 months in which the new restart provisions were in effect, the GAO report found evidence of reduced driver fatigue and enhanced roadway safety. Specifically, the report found: fewer fatal crashes; fewer drivers working the maximum schedules; lower risk of driver fatigue; and no increase in crashes during the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. morning rush hour.” While the FMCSA report is scheduled for release in the fall, the GAO report alone is far more evidence than Senator Collins had when she originally proposed her amendment.

 

Senate Passes DRIVE Act – Worst “Safety Title” in the Last 25 Years

Public Health and Safety Groups and Family Members Who Have Lost a Loved One in a Preventable Crash Respond to the Passage of the 6-Year Highway Bill

Lawmakers Must Spend the Next Three Months Working to Get This Right –

the Cost of Inaction is Too High

Nearly 200,000 People will be Killed and 14 Million Injured in Crashes over 6 Years

Major Changes and Improvements Essential to Gain Public Support

Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2015) – Today the Senate passed the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), the multi-year, multi-billion dollar surface transportation reauthorization bill that moves construction projects and industry interests forward, but highway and auto safety protections backwards. The legislation contains numerous provisions that pander to auto and trucking industries at the cost of more deaths and injuries on our streets and highways in the next six years. Many Senators, including Senators Nelson (D-FL), Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT), Wicker (R-MS), Feinstein (D-CA) and Booker (D-NJ), stood with consumer and safety groups and families of crash victims and sponsored numerous amendments to strike anti-safety, special interest roll backs and add pro-safety proposals. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership thwarted consideration of nearly all of these safety-related provisions by blocking votes on all amendments except a few dealing with non-transportation issues.

National public health and safety organizations and families of victims of motor vehicle and motor carrier crashes urge Congress to remedy the indefensible anti-safety provisions in the DRIVE Act. Over the next three months, Congress needs to make essential changes and improvements to the bill.

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, “This is the first time in over 25 years that the Senate has not advanced critical highway safety measures needed to stop the mounting carnage on our roads. Without changes and improvements the so-called DRIVE Act steers safety into a ditch. This bill should be towed away and taken in for serious repairs. If this bill becomes law by next summer, family road trips will be fraught with dangers because the Senate failed to protect public safety. Families will be sharing the road with more high risk teen truck drivers, more oversized triple trailer trucks, and more fatigued truck drivers exempted from hours of service rules. Additionally, the Senate bill will keep consumers in the dark about deadly safety defects in the used car they buy or the safety record of the company they hire to move their household goods.   It is imperative that over the next three months of the short-term patch, leaders in both the Senate and House fix these provisions and add the protections that are needed.”

Georges Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director, American Public Health Association stated, “Motor vehicle crashes impose an unnecessary emotional and economic toll on our citizens.  By any measure, 33,000 deaths and over 2 million injuries every year is a public health epidemic.  There are commonsense solutions available that can dramatically prevent and reduce the death and injury toll on our roads and highways. We know what to do and we need the political leadership to get it done.  I urge Congress to use the 3-month extension to readjust priorities and put the health and safety of the public first.”

Ken Rimer, stepfather of Natasha Weigel, victim of a General Motors ignition switch defect, “Since learning that Natasha was killed when her airbag failed to deploy as a result of the General Motors ignition switch defect, I have worked tirelessly to ensure other families don’t experience my pain and loss because of auto industry cover-ups and NHTSA carelessness. Numerous congressional hearings have identified practical legislative changes that are needed but the Senate bill rejected these reforms in favor of a ‘business as usual’ solution. Although the DRIVE Act includes a modest increase in monetary fines that the agency can assess, they are still grossly inadequate and will never serve as a serious deterrent to corporations purposely concealing defects that cause deaths and injuries. There must be criminal penalties for automakers that knowingly conceal defects that lead to death and injury. The political influence that auto makers have in Washington, D.C. should not come at the price of the American public. While nothing can bring my stepdaughter back, we need a system where auto executives are accountable to the public and not just corporate profits.”

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Member of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, “In all my years of volunteering as a truck safety advocate since my dad was killed in a truck crash in 1983, I have never felt more abandoned by political leaders in the Senate, several of whom we have counted on as supporters in the past. Every year about 4,000 people needlessly die in truck crashes — the equivalent of a catastrophic commercial airplane crash every week. Congress would never consider passing legislation that upgraded airport facilities and advanced the aviation industry agenda but did nothing to improve public safety like it is with surface transportation in the DRIVE Act. The Senate would never let that happen, nor should it now in the face of truck safety needs that cry out for reasoned and reasonable safety countermeasures.”

Jack Gillis, author of The Car Book and Director of Public Affairs for the Consumer Federation of America, “Consumers expect that when there is a major safety problem, their political leaders will be on their side to address it and mitigate risk.  The Senate bill gets a failing grade for protecting corporate misbehavior and malfeasance over consumer safety.  The bill requires rental car companies to repair vehicles under recall for defects but not families who buy from a used car dealer.  Nearly three out of four car buyers purchase a used vehicle and the Senate did not close a loophole that allows used car dealers to sell unrepaired recalled vehicles.  This is unacceptable and offers second rate safety protections to the millions of consumers who choose to buy, or can only afford, a second hand car.”

Janette Fennell, Founder and President of KidsAndCars.org, “Eleven children have died so far this year in hot cars. Tomorrow is National Heatstroke Prevention and Awareness Day and we are sending the widespread message of ‘Look Before You Lock’ to the American public. But unfortunately, this message will not reach every family and children will continue to die until Congress requires the Department of Transportation to complete research and a rulemaking on technologies that warn a driver that a child remains in the back seat. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2015 (S. 1743) which includes this critical step, but it was a huge missed opportunity that the provision was not a part of the DRIVE Act passed by the Senate today. I urge Congress to take this vital step to save children’s lives during the three-month extension.”

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), “My son Jeff and three of his friends were killed on October 10, 1993, when a Walmart truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into their car on the Maine Turnpike. For the last 20 years, I have worked to combat the deadly problem of truck driver fatigue. The DRIVE Act continues to coddle special trucking interests by allowing whole segments of the industry to get permanent exemptions from critical safety rules. This is not a complicated issue but a real world danger that affects everyone on our roads, sadly even comedian Tracy Morgan who was seriously injured in a crash caused by a dozing truck driver. The public understands and overwhelmingly opposes longer hours for truck drivers. A poll conducted last October showed that 80% of Americans don’t want Congress to increase the working and driving hours of truck drivers. Public opposition and safety are secondary to the Senate’s continuing efforts to appease special trucking interests with safety repeals and setbacks that lead to more crashes, deaths and injuries.”

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Today the Senate turned its back on the public and ran into the arms of special interests.   In all of my years working on highway and auto safety, I have never seen such a partisan and pointed attack on public safety. The DRIVE Act puts lifesaving highway and truck safety rules on the auction block and special interests were the highest bidders.  As Senators return home in August and are driving around their states, I hope they realize the damage they are doing and the danger they are causing by pressing ahead with this deadly legislation.  There should be no victory laps or self-congratulations for passing such a horrific bill.  I urge the public to contact their lawmakers and stand up for their right to safety. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has repeatedly stated that safety is his top priority and we support that position.  It is not enough for Congress to send President Obama a long-term transportation funding bill; it must also include a long-term commitment to reducing highway deaths and injuries. Right now the Senate bill falls dangerously short and sets back several Obama Administration safety initiatives.  It does not deserve the Administration’s support without major changes. There is still time to fix this bill. Members should do right by their constituents who cast a vote to get them elected, not just those lobbyists who wrote a campaign check.”

 

Letter to Senate on Safety Title in DRIVE Act

Dear Senator:

We are writing to you because of our concerns and objections to the disregard for public safety reflected in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation safety title in the DRIVE Act. There is no doubt that if 33,000 people were dying in airplane crashes every year – the equivalent of a major catastrophic plane crash every other day — Congress would not for a moment consider passing legislation that upgraded airport facilities and advanced the agenda of the airline industry but did nothing to improve safety. The Senate would never let that happen, nor should it do so in the face of motor vehicle and truck safety needs that cry out for reasoned and reasonable safety countermeasures.

The safety title of the DRIVE Act does more to advance auto and trucking interests than to advance public safety. It includes provisions that puts burdensome and unnecessary roadblocks to safety rulemakings; proposes untested and dangerous programs like interstate teen truck and bus driving when this young age group already is overrepresented in fatal crashes when behind the wheel of a car or an intrastate truck; and, it completely ignores that automakers are selling defective cars to families that are killing and injuring hundreds, covering up their shameful actions and face only paltry fines that have become the cost of doing business. For example, without enactment of provisions in S. 1743, the safety title proposed by Senators Nelson (D-FL), Blumenthal (D-CT) and Markey (D-MA), a member of your family can walk into a used car dealership today and drive away with a car that has a deadly defect that has not been repaired but could maim or kill.

The Senate can do better, as it has in past reauthorization bills. For 25 years the Senate has been a bi-partisan beacon in advancing sound, sensible and cost-saving proposals resulting in safer cars, safer drivers and safer roads in the surface transportation reauthorization bills that have been enacted into law. These laws have literally saved hundreds of thousands of lives, prevented millions of serious, lifelong injuries and saved our economy billions of dollars.

  • In 1991, the Senate included provisions in the ISTEA law resulting in airbags as standard equipment in the front seat of all passenger vehicles and a freeze on the spread of double and triple-trailer trucks in every state.
  • In 1995, the Senate adopted a national zero tolerance BAC law for underage drinking and driving requiring every state to pass this lifesaving law to protect our children.
  • Again, in 1998, the Senate led the way with safety provisions in the TEA-21 bill requiring advanced airbags, incentive grants for occupant protection and stronger drunk driving laws.
  • In 2005, the passage of the SAFETEA-LU bill brought about major improvements in vehicle safety because it included the bi-partisan Senate safety title that sought to address the 10,000 annual deaths occurring every year due to vehicle rollover. This bi-partisan safety title under the leadership of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) and Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) required vehicle safety standards resulting in electronic stability control technology on every vehicle, improved roof strength, ejection mitigation as well as mandatory truck safety improvements.
  • In 2012, theMAP-21 bill took a major step forward in public safety by advancing motorcoach safety improvements under the leadership of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The Senate enacted into law critical National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations for motorcoach safety that had languished for decades and turned them into law. The result will affect the safety of millions of travelers using intercity buses, children on school field trips, college athletes traveling to sporting events and others. The bill requires that motorcoaches will finally be equipped with basic occupant safety protections such as seatbelts, roof crush prevention, occupant ejection protections and other critical safety features.

Safety groups will continue to oppose the current safety title of the DRIVE Act until the serious problems are corrected – both by dropping the anti-safety provisions and by including pro-safety measures in the Nelson/Blumenthal/Markey/Booker bills (S. 1743 and S. 1739).  These include but are not limited to — criminal penalty authority, removing the cap on civil penalties, requiring the repair of safety defects in used cars, improvements to Early Warning Reporting (EWR) requirements to identify safety defects earlier, extending the statutory limitation on repairing defects to at least 15 years, addressing children dying in hot cars, pedestrian safety, advancing crash avoidance technology in large trucks and dropping all of the anti-truck safety provisions such as – teen truckers, hiding safety scores of trucking and bus companies, permanent hours of service (HOS) exemptions, unnecessary rulemaking roadblocks, giving FMCSA authority to determine “fault” in truck crashes without a complete and thorough investigation, thawing the LCV freeze and others.

We urge you to think about the consequences of taking a pass on enacting a strong and needed safety title in the 6-year authorization bill. During the 6-year span of this bill it is expected that every state will suffer significant loss of life and injury, with 200,000 people killed and 12 million injured in motor vehicle crashes if nothing is done to reduce those losses. Please do not turn your back on these victims because we didn’t do enough.

Sincerely,

 

Jacqueline 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

 

Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director
Center for Auto Safety

 

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director
Trauma Foundation

 

Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs
Consumer Federation of America

 

Janette E. Fennell, Founder and President
KidsAndCars.org

 

John Lannen, Executive Director
Truck Safety Coalition

 

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
Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee
Daughter of James Mooney, Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

 

 

USA Today Op-Ed: The road to hell is paved with congressional legislation

By Joan Claybrook

Imagine that U.S. airlines had suffered four crashes in four weeks, killing a total of 330 people. Congress would be panicking, holding hearings to demand explanations and find a fix. Passengers would be cancelling flights, and the airlines would be scrambling to increase aircraft inspections and scrutinize pilot qualifications.

Thankfully, of course, this hasn’t happened. But on highways across the country, large truck crashes continue their mayhem, one crash at a time, community by community. Officials and trucking companies pay little heed — it’s business as usual. Some 330 people are being killed each month and nearly 8,000 are suffering excruciating injuries in accidents involving trucks. Truckers aren’t always to blame, but the National Transportation Safety Board says as many as one-third of these crashes involve tired truckers. On Capitol Hill, congressional leaders don’t seem concerned. In fact, Congress is listening to trucking industry lobbyists pressing for larger trucks to carry more cargo and further undercut safety on the nation’s highways, as well as degrade bridges and roadways.

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Why the difference? From the beginning of air travel, America made a commitment to have safe skies.  But not so for trucks. Truck safety standards have been delayed for decades under pressure from trucking companies.  And right now on Capitol Hill, Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are proposing to increase the size of trucks. Their plan would pre-empt the laws of 39 states, forcing them to allow double and triple trailers of trucks that are 33 feet long rather than the current maximum in those states of 28 feet.  The new combinations would be 84 feet to 120 feet long — like trains on our highways.

Key highway legislation is scheduled to be considered this week on the Senate floor. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., want to have the Department of Transportation evaluate these longer trucks instead of recklessly allowing Congress to mandate them.

Senators pushing bigger trucks know that truck crash fatalities have increased 17% and injuries 28% in the past four years.  They know that more than 75% of the public oppose larger trucks and longer working and driving hours for truck drivers (who now can be required to drive and work up to 82 hours a week).  But they work hand in glove with trucking lobbyists and hope their constituents aren’t looking.

Trucking companies, particularly FedEx and UPS, give large amounts of campaign money to Congress and spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying. Unless individual citizens who pay the price with their lives and wallets call their senators demanding they vote for safer trucks, not bigger trucks, even the current opposition of the White House won’t be enough to stop this dangerous legislation.  Let’s make highway safety our first goal.

Joan Claybrook is the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and president emeritus of Public Citizen.

Link to Article: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/07/21/trucks-big-rigs-congress-transportation-highway-safety-joan-claybrook/30431445/

New York Times Editorial: A Senate Bill That Makes Roads and Railroads Less Safe

Last month the House passed an appropriations bill that would put bigger trucks with overworked drivers behind the wheel on the nation’s highways. If that weren’t irresponsible enough, the Senate is now considering legislation that would allow trucking companies to hire 18-year-old drivers for interstate routes and undermine safety on roads and railroads in numerous other ways.

Even by the low standards of the current Congress, these bills are egregious examples of faithfully saying yes to everything industry wants, in this case the transportation companies. The Senate is expected to take up its disingenuously named Comprehensive Transportation and Consumer Protection Act of 2015 this week as part of a larger transportation package that reauthorizes federal agencies and programs.

One of the measure’s worst provisions would lower the minimum age for interstate truck drivers to 18, from 21, in a misguided attempt to help the industry recruit more drivers. (Most states allow people as young as 18 to drive trucks within state limits.) Studies show that teenage and young adult drivers are much more likely to be involved in accidents than other adults. It would be foolish to allow these inexperienced drivers to drive long distances in large, heavy trucks. A far better way to address a shortage of drivers would be for the industry to raise wages and improve working conditions.

Another provision would eviscerate federal rules on how much rest truckers must get. Companies would be allowed to seek temporary or permanent exceptions from the Department of Transportation’s rules governing hours of driving. Those regulations are already quite lenient because they allow truckers to drive up to 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days before getting at least 34 hours of rest. The House voted in June to postpone those rules pending another study.

The Senate bill would also forbid the department to publish safety ratings of trucking and bus companies, which it currently does on a website. The legislation would also make it much harder for the department to increase the minimum insurance requirements for trucks and buses that were last set in 1985.

That’s not all. The bill would delay an end-of-year deadline for railroads to install positive-train control technology to help prevent accidents like the Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May that killed eight people and injured more than 200. It would also delay a federal rule that requires trains carrying crude oil to have brakes that can stop all cars at the same time, rather than sequentially.

The Senate bill also falls well short of addressing important issues raised by recent scandals involving defects in General Motors’ ignition switches and Takata airbags. While it would raise the maximum fine that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can levy against automakers that do not promptly disclose defects to $70 million from $35 million, that increase is a pittance for companies that make billions in profits. And by not proposing criminal liability for executives who knowingly hide the life-threatening dangers of their products, the bill simply sidesteps the issue of individual accountability.

During hearings about auto defects in recent months, lawmakers from both parties spoke forcefully about safety failures and the need to make driving less dangerous. This legislation does not come close to matching their words. Unless this bill is fixed on the Senate floor, it will lead to more accidents, deaths and injuries on American roads.

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/opinion/a-senate-bill-that-makes-roads-and-railroads-less-safe.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

2 dead, 4 injured after truck hits motorcycles along Interstate 85 in Guilford County

UPDATED 4:06 PM EDT Jul 19, 2015

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. —The driver of a tractor-trailer that hit six motorcycles stopped along Interstate 85 Friday morning, killing two motorcyclists and injuring four others, has been charged.

Daniel Santiago Serna, 34, of Plantation, Fla., was charged with felony hit and run and misdemeanor death by vehicle following the crash around 6:20 a.m. on the southbound side near Business 85 and Interstate 73. He was held under a $100,000 secured bond in the Guilford County Jail pending a first court appearance scheduled for Monday.

Arnie M. Morris, 37, of Woodbridge, Va., died at the scene, and Kenneth N. Jefferson, 51, of Chesterfield, Va., died at Moses Cone Hospital Sunday morning.

Another motorcyclist was listed in stable condition as of Saturday, while the other three motorcyclists were released from Moses Cone.

The tractor-trailer went off the road and hit all six motorcycles that were stopped on the shoulder, troopers said. Five of the motorcyclists were standing along the road at the time of the crash, while the sixth was sitting on her bike, troopers said.

The truck stopped near Groometown Road about a mile south of the crash scene, troopers said. Troopers believe the truck only stopped due to having a flat tire and say the driver may have been asleep at the wheel.

Two people were in the tractor-trailer, which belongs to EP Trucking out of Miami. Both truck occupants weren’t injured, and neither were impaired by drugs or alcohol, troopers said.

The motorcyclists were heading from the Northern Virginia/Southern Maryland area to a bikers rally in Atlanta, troopers said.

The crash investigation continues. Multiple southbound lanes were closed for several hours Friday.

Link to article: http://www.wxii12.com/news/tractortrailer-motorcycles-involved-in-i85-accident/34215010

Truck driver cited for careless driving one day before fatal I-75 crash

June 30th, 2015 by Shelly Bradbury

The truck driver involved in the nine-vehicle wreck on Interstate 75 was cited for careless driving in Florida on Wednesday — one day before officials say he plowed into several vehicles in a crash that killed six people in Chattanooga.

Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, sideswiped a truck while attempting to pass on June 24 in Wildwood, Fla., according to a Florida Highway Patrol crash report. Brewer’s truck struck the left bumper of the other truck, and both vehicles pulled to the shoulder of the two-lane road around 9:30 a.m.

Neither driver was hurt, according to the report, and both were wearing seatbelts. The road was not wet, Brewer was not distracted and his vision was not obscured, according to the report. He was issued a citation for careless driving and ordered to pay $166.

The same woman who was riding with Brewer when he crashed in Chattanooga was a passenger in the truck during the Florida wreck, according to the report. Chattanooga police have identified the woman as Brewer’s fiancee. She does not have a commercial driver’s license, Lt. Adrian Gibb said Monday.

After the accident on Wednesday, Brewer stopped to repair his truck in Ocala, Fla., before driving up to Chattanooga, Gibb said. Brewer, who drives for London, Ky., trucking company Cool Runnings Express Inc., had driven at least 400 miles before wrecking in Chattanooga, Gibb said.

He declined to say how many hours Brewer had been on the clock, citing the ongoing investigation. Both local agencies and a team of 11 people from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which killed two children and four adults.

It’s too early to say what caused Brewer to fail to stop, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said Monday. He said the NTSB team is still collecting evidence.

“At this point, they’re examining the vehicles involved, examining the area where the accident took place, looking at issues regarding work zone areas, driver performance, the crash-worthiness of the vehicle,” he said.

Part of that investigation includes collecting the crash data recorders from each vehicle, Gibb said. The recorders, which act much like a plane’s black box, can tell investigators details about each vehicle in the 30 seconds to a minute before the impact.

Crash recorders are installed only in newer cars, and the recorders in at least two of the vehicles from Thursday’s crash were too damaged to be useful, Gibb said. But intact recorders should be able to tell investigators crucial details, such as how fast each vehicle was going and whether the brakes were applied, Gibb said.

Police have not charged Brewer with any crimes and he has returned to Kentucky, Gibb said. Brewer will not be allowed to drive a truck until the investigation into the crash is closed.

And while the police investigation is focused on Brewer, federal records show that the company Brewer works for, Cool Runnings Express, has had problems with safety in the past.

On three occasions since 2013, roadside safety inspectors immediately shut down Cool Runnings Express’ trucks because of safety issues with the trucks’ brakes, according to federal records.

That means the trucks weren’t allowed back on the road until the problems were fixed, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Cool Runnings Express’ trucks were stopped for brake problems twice in August 2013 and once in June 2014, according to motor carrier safety administration records.

“These are random inspections that are done by the roadside usually at a truck stop or weigh station,” said Duane DeBruyne, spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “They are totally unannounced. If there is anything that is an imminent hazard, the inspector can place that vehicle out of service. Which means it is not moving until that defect is repaired.”

Cool Runnings Express’ trucks were also pulled from the road after failing two other random inspections — once for making false reports about the driver’s duty log in May 2014, and once when the driver had gone beyond the 14-hour duty limit in June 2014.

The truck involved in that 14-hour citation is the same vehicle that Brewer was driving when he wrecked in this week, state and federal records show. It’s unclear, however, whether Brewer was the driver who violated the 14-hour rule or whether another person was driving the truck at that time.

Cool Runnings Express owner Billy Sizemore declined to comment on the wreck on Monday. The company operates six trucks and employs nine drivers, according to the safety administration. Drivers haul meat, refrigerated food and fresh produce.

During the last 24 months, Cool Runnings Express failed three of eight vehicle inspections — 37 percent — and failed two of 14 driver inspections, or 14 percent, safety administration records show.

The national average for inspection failure rates among trucking companies is about 21 percent for vehicle inspections and 6 percent for driver inspections, according to the safety administration.

Chattanooga trucking company Covenant Transport failed 13 percent of its vehicle inspections during the last 24 months, according to the safety administration. Covenant, which has 1,592 trucks and 2,484 drivers, failed just .9 percent of its driver inspections in the same time period.

Link: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/jun/30/truck-driver-fatal-i-75-crash-cited-careless/312172/

Press Release: Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Advances Numerous Anti-Truck Safety Provisions in Transportation Spending Bill

Broad Coalition Says NO to Putting Corporate Profit before Public Safety; Crash Victims, Law Enforcement, Labor, and Safety Groups Urge Senators to Reject “Wish List” of Trucking Industry Interests

FULL APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE VOTE ON THURSDAY

WASHINGTON, DC (Tuesday, June 23, 2015) – Today, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) advanced the FY2016 THUD Appropriations bill which includes anti-truck safety provisions. A broad coalition including relatives of truck crash victims, law enforcement, labor and safety groups joined with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) afterwards to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject these dangerous and deadly provisions.

The full Appropriations Committee will markup the spending bill on Thursday, when it is expected that Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will offer an amendment, similar to the provision in the House-passed bill, to force every state to allow the operation of trucks pulling “double 33s” twin trailers that would amount to a combined length of 84 feet – longer than an eight story building.

A small minority of the trucking industry, including FedEx and the American Trucking Associations, is championing this major change in national transportation policy. It is widely opposed by trucking companies, the public, law enforcement, truck drivers, safety groups, short line railroads, and railway suppliers, among others. States and elected officials throughout the country have also spoken loud and clear on this issue.

A chronology of opposition:

  • On June 1, the S. Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to the House opposing the measures.
  • On June 5, the S. Department of Transportation released the long-awaited findings of the truck size and weight study and determined that because of profound data limitations, there should be no changes in federal truck size and weight laws and limits.
  • On June 5, Republican state lawmakers from Pennsylvania sent a letter pleading with Congress not to increase truck size and weights because of the enormous infrastructure, safety and financial costs to the state.
  • On June 10, 15 CEOs of major trucking companies across the country sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership objecting to the economic and competitive consequences of such a major change in national freight policy to financially benefit a few select companies like FedEx and others.
  • On June 16, the Illinois State Senate unanimously passed a resolution against federal changes in truck size and weight laws.
  • On June 18, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee stating that there has not been sufficient dialogue on the impacts of these provisions and the appropriate committees of jurisdiction have not reviewed them.
  • And, today, in the home state of Appropriations Committee Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS), the Mississippi Transportation Commission passed a resolution opposing bigger and heavier trucks because it will override their decision-making and degrade safety on Mississippi roads.

The following quotes are from speakers at today’s U.S. Capitol news conference:

Jackie Gillan, president, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety:

“Before today is over, 11 people will die in large truck crashes and 275 more will be injured. We urge Congress to put the brakes on the runaway trucking industry agenda of safety repeals and rollbacks. It is on a deadly collision course with public safety. Everyday opposition is growing and the evidence is more compelling that anti-truck safety measures will result in more crashes, deaths and injuries.”

Joan Claybrook, chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“It’s not enough that trucking interests want victims and their families to bear the emotional costs of truck crashes but they also want them to bear the economic costs of hospitalizations and medical care. It is literally a trucking industry ‘hit and run’ leaving innocent truck crash victims and their families on the side of the road without sticking around to help.”

Lisa Shrum (Fayette, MO) whose mother Virginia and stepfather Randy were killed in a truck crash involving a FedEx double trailer truck:

“I urge the Senators on the Appropriations Committee to think about your families and their safety before you vote to put FedEx in the driver’s seat and ignore the dangers of oversized and overweight trucks. Our families need your protection.”

Fred McLuckie, International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

“More than 600,000 of our 1.4 million members start their workday by turning a key in a vehicle. The road is their workplace, roads that are congested like never before. It is irresponsible to allow larger, heavier trucks on our highways while potentially allowing employers to keep drivers on the road for more than 80 hours a week.”

Andrew Matthews, Chairman, National Troopers Coalition:

“On behalf of the National Troopers Coalition’s 42,000 members, we ask the Senate to oppose any amendment forcing the states to allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s highways. Every day our members witness the dangers that these longer tractor-trailers pose to the motoring public and our troopers. If ‘Twin 33s’ become legal, this could ultimately replace 53-foot singles as one of the most commonly used configurations.”

Ed Slattery (Lutherville, MD), board member, Parents Against Tired Truckers, whose wife Susan was killed and sons, Peter and Matthew, seriously injured in a triple-trailer truck crash caused by a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel:

“I urge Senators in both parties to think about the thoughts coursing through my head each night as I go to sleep. You think about re-election. I think about Matthew having another seizure in the middle of the night. You think about campaign promises that you’ve made. I think about what the last seconds of my wife’s live were like. Did she see the truck barreling down on her in the rear view mirror? Does she know her boys lived, albeit severely injured? You might wonder what you’d do if this happened to your family. I don’t have to wonder. I urge the Senate to vote for families. I urge you to vote against heavier trucks that threaten our highways and bridges. I urge you to vote for the American people who oppose larger and heavier trucks by a very large majority.”

Robert Mills, Officer, Forth Worth (TX) Police Department:

“I am on the highways every day for my job. I see firsthand the dangerous conditions motorists, truck drivers and law enforcement face. It confounds me that Congress is considering actions to make our roads even less safe considering 4,000 people die every year in truck crashes and nearly 100,000 more are injured.”

 

Media Advisory: News Conference to Stop Assault on Truck Safety

MEDIA ADVISORY

Truck crash victims, law enforcement, safety advocates to join Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) as Senate is poised to consider dangerous special interest riders including “Double 33 Trailers” and “Tired Truckers” provisions passed by House in FY 2016 transportation spending bill

WHAT:          

NEWS CONFERENCE to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to stop the unprecedented assault on truck safety led by large trucking company lobbyists who used backdoor maneuvers to slip several anti-truck safety provisions into the FY 2016 transportation spending bill (HR 2577) narrowly approved by the House on June 9.

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) will mark up the Senate’s FY 2016 transportation appropriations bill on Tuesday, June 23 and the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday, June 25. News conference speakers will call on the Senate committee to reject these stealth riders that made it into the House bill without any hearings, public input or evaluation of the impacts of these rollbacks on safety and the nation’s roads and bridges.

WHEN:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 2:30pm

WHERE:

U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) Room 208, Washington, D.C.

WHO:

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a leading voice for improved commercial motor vehicle safety. On June 18, Senator Blumenthal and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations leadership urging them to reject any effort to legalize double 33-foot trailers on the nation’s highways.

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and former Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (INVITED)

Andy Matthews, Chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, which represents 42,000 State Troopers from 41 states around the country, and President of the Connecticut State Police Union.

Lisa Shrum of Fayette, Missouri, whose mother Virginia Baker and stepfather Randy Baker were killed in a crash on October 10, 2006, involving a FedEx double trailer truck. Lisa is a victim advocate with the Truck Safety Coalition.

Ed Slattery of Lutherville, Maryland. On August 16, 2010, Ed’s wife Susan was killed and their two sons, Peter and Matthew, were severely injured when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel of a triple-trailer truck on the Ohio Turnpike, forcing them into the semi-trailer ahead. Matthew suffered massive head trauma, and is permanently disabled. Ed is a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers.

Officer Robert Mills, Fort Worth (TX) Police Department, one of the nation’s leading commercial motor vehicle safety law enforcement experts.

BACKGROUND:

The safety rollbacks, repeals and exemptions in the House-passed transportation spending bill (HR 2577) would result in more overweight and oversized trucks driven by overworked and overtired truckers across the nation at the cost of more death and traumatic injury by:

  • Forcing states to allow FedEx double 33-foot trailers throughout the country, taking away a state’s right to set trailer lengths. 39 states currently prohibit double 33 tractor-trailer combinations, which are at least 84 feet in length – the height of an 8-story building.
  • Permanently increasing truck driver working and driving hours up to 82 hours per week and killing the “weekend off” for two nights of restorative rest.
  • Defunding a public rulemaking underway at the Department of Transportation that is reviewing and assessing if minimum insurance requirements for trucks and passenger-carrying buses are adequate. They have not been changed since 1985.
  • Giving special interest carve outs to increase the current federal truck weight limits from 80,000 lbs. up to 129,000 lbs. in Idaho, raise truck lengths in Kansas and possibly additional state exemptions that could be offered during Committee mark-up that would further damage already-crumbling roads and bridges and rollback safety.

KEY FACTS:

  • Every year 4,000 people are killed and nearly 100,000 are injured, on average, in truck crashes.
  • Large truck crash fatalities increased 17% from 2009 through 2013 while total traffic fatalities declined by 3%.
  • The number of people injured in large truck crashes increased 28% from 2009 through 2013 while the number of people injured in all traffic crashes increased by only 4%.
  • In fatal two-vehicle crashes between a large truck and a passenger motor vehicle, 96% of the fatalities were occupants of the passenger vehicle.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes cost our nation $99 billion annually.

CONTACT: Bill Bronrott, 202-270-4415 and bronrott@gmail.com

Truck driver charged in crash that injured at least 14 on I-55

Truck driver charged in crash that injured at least 14 on I-55

A Tennessee man has been charged in connection with a Friday morning crash that sent at least five people to the hospital and injured nine others on the Stevenson Expressway.

Mark Tipton, 52, of Crossville, Tenn., was driving a white Freightliner tractor-trailer that struck 12 cars near Summit just before 4 a.m. Friday.

Tipton was driving in the northbound lanes of I-55, just south of First Avenue in Forest View, near Stickney. Tipton failed to stop and caused a chain-reaction crash involving 12 vehicles, police said.

Tipton told police he fell asleep while driving, according to police and court records.

Tipton picked up a load and realized he might not make his destination, so he “kept his foot down,” prosecutors said.

Tipton, who declined medical treatment at the scene, was issued six tickets after the crash, including one for driving more than 14 consecutive hours and one for driving while fatigued.

He was released on his own recognizance Sunday following a bond hearing.

Link to Article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-truck-driver-charged-in-accident-that-injured-14-on-i-55-20150621-story.html

Op-Ed: Congress Should Halt Erosions to Truck Safety by Roy Crawford

The Courier-Journal

June 11, 2015

Congress should halt erosions to truck safety

By Roy Crawford

After a horrendous truck crash that results in deaths, injuries, and destruction, messages of sympathy and condolences from politicians are often scattered around like leftover debris at a crash scene. Unfortunately, seldom do we hear from our elected officials, “We should have done more.” This is especially the case with large truck crashes which kill about 4,000 people annually and injure 100,000 more.

The inaction and indifference after several recent fatal truck crashes in Kentucky should serve as a loud wake-up call. Instead of responding with measures to improve safety, there is a reactive cycle of inertia or, worse yet, efforts going on right now in Congress to roll back lifesaving truck safety laws.

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., chairs one of the most important committees in Congress, the House Appropriations Committee, which provides funding for all federal agencies and programs. As of now the House is debating the annual spending bill for transportation programs drafted under his leadership. The bill includes numerous anti-truck safety provisions pushed by well-connected and well financed corporate trucking lobbyists. None of these changes in current law were subject to any legislative hearing, agency review, or public debate.

These include a FedEx proposal to overturn the law in 39 states, including Kentucky, and force every state to allow extra-long trucks exceeding 84 feet in length pulling two 33-foot-long trailers.

Furthermore, the bill continues the “Tired Truckers” exemption that took away truck drivers’ vitally important weekends off and allows them to work and drive as many as 82 hours a week. The bill also stops an on-going rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Transportation to ensure adequate insurance requirements for trucks and passenger carrying buses.

Increasing the size and weight of trucks is unsafe and unpopular. Companies like FedEx pushing for bigger trucks are misleading Congress and the public by suggesting that trucks pulling two longer trailers are safer and will result in fewer trucks on the roads. That is wrong. The recent multi-vehicle crash in Kentucky involving a FedEx double tractor-trailer truck and causing the needless death of two people is evidence of how dangerous these big trucks are.

Unfortunately, I know firsthand the dangers of truck crashes. My 16-year-old son, Guy Crawford, was killed on Jan. 12, 1994, near Isom, Ky. He approached a grossly overloaded coal truck traveling at only about a third of the speed limit, a situation that violates the expectations of other drivers. The truck did not have proper rear lights and reflectors or any underride guard at all.

As of now, in fatal truck crashes involving a car and a truck, 96% of the deaths are the occupants of the car. Although I am a forensic engineer I don’t need to rely on my professional expertise to know that longer trucks are more difficult to maneuver in traffic, resulting in loss of ability to avoid collisions and sometimes causing rollovers; have increased blind spots; when overloaded travel dangerously slowly on high-speed highways, especially here in Eastern Kentucky where we have such long, steep grades; run away with overheated brakes, and cause much more serious crashes.

Fatigued truck driving is a serious problem in the trucking industry, yet the bill in the House of Representatives will, against all logic, make things worse. An average work week for most Americans is 40 hours, but Congress is considering extending the already long work week of a trucker to more than double that amount of time — almost all of it surrounded by traffic.

From 2009 to 2013, large trucks have been involved in nearly 40,000 crashes on Kentucky roads, killing almost 500 people and injuring more than 9,000. And, truck crashes, deaths and injuries are on the rise compared to the drop in overall traffic fatalities and injuries.

Another provision in the bill would stop a public rulemaking to review minimum insurance requirements for trucking companies. The current federal minimum is only $750,000 and has not been changed since 1985. This is grossly inadequate to cover the medical costs of severe and often lifelong debilitating injuries or death in a crash when there are multiple victims.

In the next few weeks the U.S. Senate will take up this spending bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is a member of the Appropriations Committee. I urge him not to support these provisions, and I also call upon Rep. Rogers and the rest of the Kentucky congressional delegation to put the safety of Kentucky families first.

Kentucky families will pay the price if these measures become law.

Roy Crawford is a retired forensic engineer living in Whitesburg, Ky.

Link to article: http://louisvillecourierjournal.ky.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=0095ea891

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.”

##

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

 

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.

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

 

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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Press Release: Truck Safety Advocates Respond to News of Truck Crash that Killed New Jersey Police Officer

Contact: Beth Weaver beth_weaver@verizon.net, 703.294.6404

 TRUCK SAFETY ADVOCATES RESPOND TO NEWS OF TRUCK CRASH THAT KILLED NEW JERSEY POLICE OFFICER 

Findings Show Truck Did Not Brake Before Slamming Into Police Car Parked on Highway Shoulder – Truck Driver Charged with Second-Degree Vehicular Homicide

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 18, 2014)—The Bergen County Prosecutor’s office announced in a press release last night that truck driver Ryon Cumberbatch has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide in the crash that killed New Jersey police officer Christopher Goodell. According to the press release, there was no evidence of pre-impact braking by the truck. It was revealed that it appears from the roadway evidence that Cumberbatch drove directly into the police car without stopping or attempting to stop. Truck safety advocates respond to the tragic crash with messages of condolence and support for Officer Goodell’s family.

Daphne Izer founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after losing her son Jeff and his three teenage friends in a crash caused by a tired trucker who fell asleep behind the wheel and ran over their car.  Izer said, “My heart goes out to the Goodell family because I truly understand the pain that they are going through, and I want them to know that our volunteer network, including myself, is here to offer support, grief services and resources.”

Ed Slattery, a Board Member for PATT added, “We don’t know yet for sure whether fatigue was a factor in this crash, but the hour of the crash and the lack of braking would indicate that it is very possible.” Slattery lost his wife, Susan, in 2010 after a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck and crashed into his family’s car on the Ohio Turnpike. His two sons were also seriously injured, one permanently, in the crash.

Slattery added, “Truck driver fatigue has been a known safety issue for over 70 years, yet it remains a major contributor to truck crashes. I am completely dismayed by the amendment introduced by Senator Collins (R-ME) that would force overworked truck drivers to drive even more hours each week, exacerbating fatigue and fatigue related crashes.”

Recent deadly truck crashes in New Jersey, including the crash that killed James McNair and injured comedian Tracy Morgan and two friends, underscore the urgent need to improve truck safety and reduce truck driver fatigue.

In response to the New Jersey truck crashes, and the expanding issue of truck driver fatigue and other truck safety issues, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced an amendment, cosponsored by Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod C. Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Brian E. Schatz (D-HI), and Chris S. Murphy (D-CT). The Booker Amendment would protect important safety rules governing rest periods and the hours of service truck drivers may work each week.

Izer, who was awarded the White House Champion of Change award in May 2014, for her efforts to reduce truck driver fatigue, concluded, “I support the Booker Amendment because we need to uphold the ongoing efforts to improve truck safety issues, not make them worse. Our families cannot continue to pay the ultimate price when truck safety issues and improvements are known. It is well past time to make the changes necessary to reduce truck crashes, and the resulting fatalities and injuries.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

###

Press Conference Call: Senator Booker, Senator Blumenthal, Truck Crash Victims’ Families, Safety Groups, Law Enforcement, Labor Groups, Trucking Companies Unite in Opposition to Attack on Truck Safety

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088, Beth_weaver@verizon.net

PRESS CONFERENCE CALL

SENATOR BOOKER, SENATOR BLUMENTHAL, TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES, SAFETY GROUPS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, LABOR GROUPS, TRUCKING COMPANIES UNITE IN OPPOSITION TO ATTACK ON TRUCK SAFETY

Trucking Allies Pushing Sen. Collins’ Amendment to Take Away Truck Drivers “Weekends” of Rest and Replace With Another Day of Driving 

Senate to Debate FY 2015 THUD Appropriations Bill This Week

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Problem in the Trucking Industry – Collins Amendment is Not a “Minor Adjustment” But a “Major Assault” on Truck Safety

 Safety First – Every Minute and a Half of Every Day a Large Truck Crash Occurs

WHEN:           Tuesday, June 17th, 2:15 p.m. EST

WHAT:           Senators, safety groups, truck drivers, freight transportation companies, law enforcement, and victims of truck crashes involving fatigued drivers will discuss an amendment to strike the Collins Anti-Safety Amendment (which was passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and is now part of the underlying bill).  The Collins amendment will change the current hours of service rule for truck drivers to replace off-duty rest time with on-duty driving hours.  “Weekend” rest period will be replaced with more driving hours.      

The Collins Amendment will suspend two important safety features of the truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rule: 1. A limit on how often the 34-hour “restart” or rest period can be taken – once in a 168 hour or 7-day period, and 2. A requirement of two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the “restart.”  These two features were included in the truck driver HOS rule to address chronic fatigue that occurs when long haul truck drivers are behind the wheel of a truck for 11 continuous hours, working 14-hour shifts daily and were able to constantly put in up to 82 hours of work, week after week. The amendment to strike will retain these critical safety protections.

WHO:             Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Lane Kidd, Managing Director, The Trucking Alliance

Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick USA and Chairman, The Trucking Alliance

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Steve Keppler, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance representing commercial vehicle law enforcement 

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME) 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 the Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), and is a 2014 recipient of the White House’s Champions of Change award.

 Ron Wood (Washington, DC) Ron lost his mother, Betsy Wood, and his sister, Lisa Wood Martin, and his sister’s three children Chance (4), Brock (2) and Reid (6 weeks) Martin when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel, crossed a median and crashed into Lisa’s SUV and a pick-up truck.  A total of ten people were killed and one was seriously injured. The catastrophic outcome of the Wood family’s crash prompted a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

BACKGROUND:      

  • The current hours of service (HOS) rule for truck drivers allows truckers to drive 11 hours in a 14 hour work day and take a 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 new rule that only took effect in July 2013 requires that the 34 hour rest period include two periods of time off and rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.to ensure restorative sleep.  It also requires that the 34-hour restart be used not more than once every 168 hours or 7 days.  The Collins amendment will dramatically increase allowable driving and other work hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week, essentially adding another work day to an already long work week. The Collins amendment will suspend the safety requirement that prevents drivers from continually taking only short back-to-back rest periods after long weeks of driving and work.
  • 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.
  • 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 rule was issued by U.S. DOT after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and 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 – All Pushed Aside by an Amendment that was not Reviewed, Subject to a  Congressional Hearing or Available to the Public Before the Committee Mark-Up.
  • Changing the hours-of-service rules now, not even a year since becoming effective, creates significant uniformity and consistency problems across the country for law enforcement.
  • A 2000 study revealed that 65% of truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admit they fell asleep while driving in the previous year (Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, U.S. DOT, 2000).

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Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers, Appears on World News with Diane Sawyer


ABC US News | ABC Celebrity News

Maine Truck Crash Families Appalled by Maine Senator’s Support for Anti-Truck Safety Legislation

MAINE TRUCK CRASH FAMILIES APPALLED BY SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS’ SUPPORT FOR ANTI-TRUCK SAFETY LEGISLATION

SENATOR COLLINS ACTIONS WILL INCREASE TRUCK DRIVER FATIGUE AND ROADWAY DANGERS

Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) Founder and 2014 White House Transportation Champion of Change Recipient Speaks Out

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 2, 2014)—Less than one month after being recognized by the White House as a 2014 Transportation Champion of Change for her work to reduce truck driver fatigue and require electronic logging devices (ELDs) in trucks, Daphne Izer was outraged to learn that Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) supports legislation to roll back truck safety improvements in the truck driver hours of service (HOS) rule. The HOS rule contains measures to help reduce truck driver fatigue, including the 34-hour restart provisions and a mandatory half hour rest break. These improvements are based on more than 25 years of scientific and medical research and should not be arbitrarily removed, reduced or altered.

Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “I have whiplash—one month ago I was in the White House celebrating vital improvements to reduce truck driver fatigue, and now my own Senator is using her power as Ranking Member on the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee to undo a rule which will result in more overly tired truckers on our roads. Twenty-five years of research and deliberations over the HOS rule—gone with the swish of her pen.”

Izer continued, “I’m not a well-paid Capitol Hill lobbyist, just a mom from Lisbon, Maine. I’m shocked that Senator Collins would do the bidding of the trucking companies. What are her priorities—special truck interests or our families?”

Christina Mahaney, whose five-year old son Liam was killed when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his 104,000 pound log truck into her family’s home in Jackman, Maine, added, “Next month will be the third anniversary of losing Liam, and I can’t image a worse way to mark our anniversary. Senator Collins should be supporting truck safety improvements to keep our families safe and whole, not special interest giveaways.”

Izer added, “As we’re taking a step forward to reduce truck driver fatigue by inching closer to the ELD rule, Senator Collins would roll back safety benefits of the HOS rule. We should not allow any step backwards in safety, and I urge the White House and DOT Secretary Foxx to vigorously defend its HOS rule.”

With her husband Steve Izer, Daphne founded the nonprofit safety organization, PATT, after her son, Jeff Izer (age 17), and three of his friends were killed and one seriously injured in a preventable truck crash by a fatigued truck driver.  Since then, Daphne has worked to advance truck safety to help prevent other families from suffering a similar, devastating loss.

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

###

Karth Family Journeys to Washington, D.C.
Deliver “Anna Leah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety” Petition to U.S. DOT

On May 4, 2014, the first anniversary of the devastating truck crash that claimed the lives of AnnaLeah and Mary Karth, Marianne and Jerry Karth and six family members will begin their journey from Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Washington, D.C. The Karth family will hand deliver their “AnnaLeah and Mary Stand Up for Truck Safety” petition to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administer Anne Ferro and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Acting Administrator David Friedman on Monday, May 5. The Karth family, including Marianne and Jerry Karth, parents, Rocky Mount, NC, Isaac Karth, brother, Rocky Mount, NC, Peter Karth, brother, Midland, Texas, Danelle Karth, sister-in-law, Midland, Texas, Susanna Karth, sister, Rocky Mount, NC, Marcus Karth, nephew, Midland, Texas and Vanessa Karth, niece, Midland, Texas, will then meet with Administrator Ferro and Acting Administrator Friedman to discuss the truck safety issues that likely contributed to their family’s crash.  The Karth family’s agenda for the meeting follows.

The Karth Family requests Secretary Foxx to take the following actions:

  1. Minimum Liability Insurance Limits for Truck Drivers: We are respectively requesting that, effective immediately, the minimum liability insurance limit be raised to $3.2 million and indexed yearly to the Medical CPI costs which are listed on page 11 of the FMCSA report (http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Financial-Responsibility-Requirements-Report-Enclosure-FINAL-April%202014.pdf ).
  2. Rear Underride Guards: We are requesting, effective immediately, that the DOT—for the present—adopt the Canadian standard for rear underride guards and that DOT continue to study the situation, as we are well aware of a trailer manufacturer which has gone beyond these standards and “raised the safety bar.”
  3. Electronic Logging Devices: We request immediate progress on rule-making for electronic logging devices, as driver fatigue is a very real concern. It is, in fact, a life and death matter. Please expedite this process as quickly as possible.

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The AnnaLeah & Mary Karth Petition: STAND UP FOR TRUCK SAFETY

Each year 4,000 people are killed and another 100,000 people are injured in truck crashes. This is an unacceptably high number of losses and injuries, but most people don’t know about these numbers or the safety equipment that can protect people on the roads until they or someone they know has their lives forever altered in a crash involving a semi truck.

Karth Crash
Karth Crash Photo

We found out the hard way all about how important truck safety is when AnnaLeah (age 17) and Mary (age 13) were killed in an accident involving two semi trucks on May 4, 2013. In a meeting on September 12th, 2013, with the Truck Safety Coalition and Secretary of Transportation Foxx to discuss truck safety issues, Foxx stated, “I can promise you tangible progress in a short period of time.” As a member of the Cabinet, Foxx has executive authority to make these changes.

Sign the Petition

Click Here to Sign the AnnaLeah & Mary Karth Petition: STAND UP FOR TRUCK SAFETY.

At this time, we are initiating an online petition to request Foxx to fulfill his promise and to do everything he can to protect our families on the road and prevent more senseless tragedies by ensuring that the following truck safety improvements are made:

We are specifically asking Foxx to:

  1. Raise minimum levels of insurance required for truck drivers–which has not been done for over 30 years.
  2. Decrease driver fatigue and monitor their hours on the road with Electronic Logging Devices.
  3. Take needed steps to improve underride guards, which prevent vehicles from sliding under trucks–causing horrific injuries and tragic deaths.

We will print each signed petition and put them in separate envelopes. Then, on May 5, 2014, we will take these envelopes to Washington, D.C. and meet with DOT to remember AnnaLeah & Mary and to promote truck safety.

A Mom’s Story: Why we are asking for change

What You Can Do To Help

1. Sign the petition and share our story & petition with others, http://bit.ly/1gN3jQf :

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  • Any other conversations which you engage in…

2. Organize efforts to get signatures from members of a group to which you belong.

  • Advertise The AnnaLeah & Mary Petition: STAND UP FOR TRUCK SAFETY to your group.
  • Encourage group members (and everyone else you know) to sign the online petition by providing them with this link: http://bit.ly/1gN3jQf .
  • To print out a petition, go to http://annaleahmary.com/petition.pdf
  • Arrange a time to have the printed petitions available for group members to sign—making sure that they include their contact information as indicated on the form.

NOTE: Be sure that they only sign ONE petition: either the online OR printed version—NOT both. Mail the signed petitions to us—POSTMARKED NO LATER than April 21, 2014:
Jerry & Marianne Karth

2800 Ridgecrest Drive

Rocky Mount, NC 27803

3. Find out more about Our Story and about Truck Safety Issues:

  • We have set up a website in memory of AnnaLeah & Mary and for the promotion of truck safety advocacy: http://annaleahmary.com
  • After our accident, we were contacted by volunteers from the Truck Safety Coalition–other people who had lost loved ones in truck crashes–and provided with helpful information and support in the wake of our tragedy.The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T). The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.For more information on truck safety issues and to sign up for newsletters and updates, please visit the rest of the Truck Safety Coalition’s website.

Please pray for this effort to be fruitful and make a difference for those who travel on the roads of our country.

Thank you,

Jerry & Marianne

SAFETY GROUPS AND DRIVERS APPALLED BY COURT DECISION ON TRUCK DRIVER HOURS OF SERVICE RULE

 

TRUCK DRIVER HOURS OF SERVICE FAILS TO REDUCE DRIVER FATIGUE

To read the full release, please click here.

 

Truck Driver in Slattery Crash Sentenced to Five Years

Truck Drivers Being Pushed Beyond Their Limits to Drive Excessively Long Hours
Truck Driver Who Pled Guilty to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated
Vehicle Assault Sentenced to Five Years Sending a Strong Message to Truck Drivers
 
Arlington, VA (January 12, 2012):  The truck driver behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck who had fallen asleep and crashed into the back of the Slattery family car resulting in the death of Susan Slattery and serious injuries to her and her husband Ed Slattery’s two sons was sentenced today in the Portage County Court House of Portage County, Ohio.  He was charged by a grand jury with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicle assault to which he pled guilty.  The judge sentenced him to five years sending a strong message to truck drivers that they will be held responsible for their actions and decisions on the road.
 
Ed Slattery responded to the news, “While nothing can bring back my wife or restore my sons’ complete health, I want people – the motoring public and truck drivers alike – to know that our roadways are not as safe as we believe them to be. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just issued a rule allowing truck drivers to drive 11 hours a day and up to 70 hours per week, and truck driver fatigue is an industry-wide health crisis.  In a recent survey almost half of truck drivers (48%) admit that they have actually fallen asleep while driving during the previous year, and 65% of truckers report that they are often or sometimes drowsy.” Slattery continued, “I want truck drivers to know that when they are pushed to surpass these already excessive driving hours, they – and not the companies – may personally wind up paying the price of jail time, or even worse.  Truck drivers deserve the same protections provided to airline pilots.  It makes absolutely no sense that our government has created a safety hierarchy of sorts where truck drivers fall to the bottom.  This system is driving truckers and surrounding motorists to our graves.”
 
The Slattery family crash occurred on August 16, 2010 around 11:45 a.m. near the 190-mile marker on the Ohio Turnpike in Streetsboro.  Susan Slattery was one of the 3,675 people killed in truck crashes in 2010.  This number of deaths was an increase of 8.7% from 2009 and was contrary to the decrease in overall motor vehicle crash fatalities which went down to its lowest level since 1949.
 
“Truck drivers are paid by the mile which results in a financial incentive to drive as fast and as far as they can,” stated John Lannen, Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director.  “The DOT issued this inadequate hours of service (HOS) rule and still has not required electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all trucks and buses.  They are perpetuating an unsafe work environment for truck drivers and endangering all those on the roads.”
 
Studies show that truck crash risk increases exponentially after 8 consecutive hours of driving and the highest level of crash risk occurs during both the 10th and 11th hours of consecutive driving.  Decreasing truck driver’s HOS by one hour would limit the time they are on the road during this period of highest crash risk.
 
Slattery concluded, “This is not a happy day for my family and we feel badly for the truck driver and his family but responsibility must be taken for the crash.  What happened to my family is clear and compelling proof of why the HOS rule must be changed and what the real costs of fatigue in the trucking industry are.  The truck driver HOS rule must be based on scientific studies, not the financial desires of the trucking industry.  While the trucking industry may claim that reducing the HOS to 10 consecutive hours would negatively impact their bottom line, I want to point out that it would produce more than $2 billion a year in crash, injury and health cost savings.  My family’s crash alone cost millions and health care costs for the rest of my son Matthew’s life are estimated at beyond $18 million. Our lives will never be the same but I will continue to work to reduce truck driver fatigue so that another family will not have to suffer the tremendous loss that my family lives with every single day.”

 

New Truck Driver Hours of Service Rule Issued – Dangerous 11 Hour Limit Retained

New Truck Driver Hours of Service Rule Issued – Dangerous 11 Hour Limit Retained – click to view press release

PRESS RELEASE: FMCSA Administrator Ferro Contradicts Claims by Trucking Industry

-Truck Crash Fatalities Up to Nearly 4,000 in 2010 Demonstrating Need for Safer Truck Safety Rules

-TSC has joined with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and other safety groups in sending a letter today to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein disputing phony claims by the ATA and urging a new, safer HOS rule

URGENT ACTION NEEDED NOW TO PROTECT HOS PROPOSAL

Truck Safety Coalition

October 18, 2011

 

UPDATE:

Truck driver fatigue is a serious highway safety problem that threatens all of us.  Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (pronounced EYH-ott) is planning to offer an amendment this afternoon that would block implementation of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)’s rulemaking on truck driver Hours of Service (HOS).  The DOT’s proposed changes to the current HOS rule are commonsense and cost-effective and would improve safety for everyone. We are being told that Senator Ayotte plans to offer the amendment on the Senate Floor during debate on HR 2112, the “Minibus” Appropriations bill which will include Transportation allocations.

 

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Please call Senator Ayote’s Legislative Director Adam Hechavarria at 202-224-3324 or email him at Adam_Hechavarria@ayotte.senate.gov .

 

Please also call your Senators’ offices and urge them to oppose any amendment to stop the HOS Rulemaking.  www.senate.gov.  Click in the top right corner to get your Senators’ numbers.

 

This is a sample – if possible please make a couple of quick changes to personalize your message.

You can save this email, then copy and paste the following information into an email, then add your personal edits and send to Adam Hechavarria.

 

I am writing to urge Senator Ayotte not to offer an amendment stopping the Department of Transportation’s current rulemaking on truck driver hours of service.

 

Truck driver fatigue is a serious safety problem that threatens all of us every day, on every major road, in every state. Each year on average, 4,000 people are needlessly killed and 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board has warned of the dangers of truck driver fatigue because it is a major factor in these crashes.

 

During the current rule which allows 77 hours a week or more of driving and more working hours beyond that, 65% of drivers reported that they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and 48% said they had fallen asleep while driving in the previous year. These overly tired truckers are driving loads up to 80,000 lbs. or more at highway speeds alongside families in small passenger vehicles.

 

Not only have two unanimous court decisions overturned the rule, but the rule also contradicts the DOT’s own research which shows that the crash risk of truck drivers increases dramatically after 8 consecutive driving hours. Trucking interests are falsely claiming the current rule has resulted in a reduction in truck crashes. Yet, no study or data directly links the recent decline in deaths with the rule, and truck crash deaths actually increased during 2004 and 2005, the first 2 years of the current rule.

 

The proposed rule will save lives, improve driver health, reduce costs to society and provide an estimated 40,000 jobs. I ask that Senator Ayotte put the safety of motorists first and foremost.

 

For More Information, contact the Truck Safety Coalition, 703-294-6404

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks,

John Lannen's Sgnature

John Lannen
Executive Director
Truck Safety Coalition
jlannen@trucksafety.org
703.294.6404

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED TO PROTECT HOS PROPOSAL

October 7, 2011

 

UPDATE:

Truck driver fatigue is a serious highway safety problem that threatens all of us.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is trying to improve safety for everyone by proposing changes to the current rule on the number of driving and working hours of truck drivers (Hours of Service, or HOS, rule).  However, special interests have gone to Congress and the White House and are trying to stop this commonsense and cost-effective public health and safety rule.  The Office of Management and Budget in the White House will soon be reviewing the proposed new rule.  We need your help to put safety first and make sure the White House hears from supporters of the proposed safety changes.

 

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Please send an email to the White House http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

 

This is a sample – please make changes to personalize your message. Note there is a 2,500 character limit which is approximately 400 words.

 

I am writing to request immediate adoption of safety improvements to the current truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rule proposed by Secretary LaHood. Truck driver fatigue is a serious safety problem that threatens all of us every day, on every major road, in every state. Each year on average, 4,000 people are needlessly killed and 100,000 more are injured in truck crashes. The National Transportation Safety Board has warned of the dangers of truck driver fatigue because it is a major factor in these crashes.

 

The current Hours of Service (HOS) rule which was proposed by the Bush Administration benefits industry interests at the expense of public safety. During the current rule which allows 77 hours a week or more of driving and more working hours beyond that, 65% of drivers reported that they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and 48% said they had fallen asleep while driving in the previous year. These overly tired truckers are driving loads up to 80,000 lbs. or more at highway speeds alongside families in small passenger vehicles. This is a deadly combination, and I urge you to change it and protect innocent motorists as well as truck drivers.

 

Not only have two unanimous court decisions overturned the rule, but the rule also contradicts the DOT’s own research which shows that the crash risk of truck drivers increases dramatically after 8 consecutive driving hours. Trucking interests are falsely claiming the current rule has resulted in a reduction in truck crashes. Yet, no study or data directly links the recent decline in deaths with the rule, and truck crash deaths actually increased during 2004 and 2005, the first 2 years of the current rule.

 

The proposed rule will save lives, improve driver health, reduce costs to society and provide an estimated 40,000 jobs. I ask that you move forward and adopt the proposed rule, putting the safety of motorists first and foremost.

For More Information, contact the Truck Safety Coalition, 703-294-6404

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thanks,

John Lannen's Sgnature

John Lannen
Executive Director
Truck Safety Coalition
jlannen@trucksafety.org
703.294.6404

Family Fights Back from Truck Accident

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. – It has been six months since Matthew Slattery suffered a traumatic brain injury after a tired trucker fell asleep at the wheel and barreled into his family’s car on an Ohio interstate.

Read More…

Statement of Truck Safety Coalition on Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) for Long-Haul Trucks Proposed Rule

Arlington, VA (February 1, 2011): The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) supports the proposed rule issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requiring that within three years long-haul commercial vehicles, trucks and buses, be equipped with Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs). The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have repeatedly cited driver fatigue as a major factor in truck crash causation. EOBRs which objectively document driving time and on-duty status will help reduce driver fatigue, eliminate fraudulent paper log books, and improve hours of service (HOS) rules enforcement.

Read More…

What is Driver Fatigue?

Background:
• Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
• Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.
• In spite of the industry wide safety issue of truck driver fatigue, in 2003, the truck driver hours of service rule (HOS) was increased from 10 to 11 hours behind the wheel during a 14 hour work day.
• The FMCSA HOS rule allowing 11 hour driving shifts has been overturned in court two different times. In 2011, the FMCSA issued a new HOS rule that kept the 11 hour maximum rather than return to the prior 10-hour rule as advocated by leading safety organizations. In response, safety groups returned to court, for the third time seeking to return the HOS rule to the 10 hour maximum. The case was argued in the U.S. Court of Appeals in March, 2013, and a decision is pending.

The Truck Safety Coalition Supports Efforts to Reduce Truck Driver Fatigue Including:

Immediate Rulemaking and Implementation of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) – Despite a provision in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Law, MAP-21 (P.L. 112-141) requiring ELDs in all commercial vehicles, FMCSA has yet to issue a rule. The TSC urges immediate rulemaking and implementation to ensure accurate logging of truck driver hours behind the wheel, increased compliance with HOS regulations, and a reduction in paperwork and stopping time for HOS reviews.

Preventing Exemptions to HOS Regulations – Exemptions to Federal motor carrier safety regulations compromise safety, erode uniformity and weaken enforcement efforts. Safety is not unique to certain types of commercial motor vehicles, carriers, cargo or routes. If the same types of vehicles are being operated on the same roadways, the same set of rules should apply. Allowing industry-specific exemptions to safety regulations is not only dangerous, but it also sets an unsafe precedent for other industries to request similar exemptions. The TSC opposes exemptions to HOS regulations.

Changes to Truck Driver Compensation – A large portion of the trucking industry is paid by the mile rather than by the hour. Truck drivers spend up to 70 hours a week behind the wheel, and then work additional hours, for less pay than similar industries (the hourly average pay is $11.15 for truck drivers, compared to $25.00 for manufacturing or construction), and as a result of their pay structure, are incentivized to drive longer and faster in order to make more money. Paying truck drivers an hourly wage will ensure that they are paid for every hour worked, and will promote healthier drivers and safer trucking.

Assuring Truck Driver Fitness – The TSC supports rulemaking for sleep apnea screening to ensure medical examiners are testing for and monitoring this widespread fatigue producing condition. Additionally, MAP-21 included the Safe Roads Act of 2012 (S.754/H.R.2459) which requires an alcohol and controlled substances testing clearinghouse to be used only for disseminating test results. We urge expedited creation and careful oversight of the clearinghouse and we urge that that it be expanded to include prescription drugs (particularly those which list drowsiness and fatigue as side-effects). Finally, we support funding to expand parking areas and services for truck drivers (a MAP-21 provision known as Jason’s Law) once the survey to determine existing facilities is completed.

Trucks, tired drivers can be deadly mix

By LISE FISHER – Sun staff writer / February 19. 2006 6:01AM

A truck driver carrying a gym bag heads for the showers at the Pilot Travel Center in Ocala Thursday evening. Richard Darley has been driving rigs since 1970 and he knows something about driver fatigue.

Continue reading “Trucks, tired drivers can be deadly mix”