Portland Press Herald: Teenagers too young to be trusted behind the wheel of a big truck

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

Portland Press Herald: Teenagers too young to be trusted behind the wheel of a big truck

Once again, members of Congress are attempting to let teenagers operate large trucks across state lines. There are clear and compelling data showing that drivers younger than 21 are less safe, higher risk and more dangerous than older, more experienced drivers. There is also widespread opposition to lowering the minimum age for interstate trucking. Nonetheless, a select few large trucking companies have convinced four lawmakers to introduce the DRIVE-Safe Act (H.R. 5358) and dozens of others (including Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin) to sign on to it.

My son Jasen and his friend Dustin were killed in a preventable truck crash in Nevada on Oct. 14, 1993. Both corporals in the United States Marine Corps, Jasen and Dustin were driving to work at the Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadow, California, at O-dark-30 when a semi-truck stalled across both lanes of the highway after the driver, who was barely 18 at the time, attempted to make an illegal U-turn. Their car collided with the center of the teen trucker’s trailer, traveling underneath the trailer, killing these two young men instantly.

It was later revealed that this teen truck driver was on a learner’s permit from California, which was not valid in Nevada, and that the legal owner-operator of the vehicle was asleep in the sleeper berth at the time of the crash. Under current laws and regulation, this is forbidden. If the DRIVE-Safe Act is passed, however, this may become the norm.

The bill includes language that sounds nice but, in reality, will greatly diminish truck safety.

In the legislation, the term “apprentice” means “an individual under the age of 21 who holds a commercial driver’s license.” This means truck drivers as young as 18 would be allowed to transport goods from South Dakota to Florida. This completely ignores research that shows that commercial motor vehicle drivers ages 18 to 20 are four to six times more likely to be involved in a crash than more experienced drivers are.

It is also ridiculous to think that a high schooler will perform as well as a long-haul truck driver would on routes requiring him to be away from his friends and family for several weeks at a time.

A homeowner would not want an 18-year-old electrician messing around with their house as they learn the ropes. A person under criminal investigation would not want their attorney getting their training as they also file motions to keep them out of prison. And supporters of this bill would not be OK if a prospective surgeon wanted to satisfy a minimum number of training hours by operating on their loved ones.

The bill also states that young truck drivers must be accompanied by an “experienced driver” in their cab. The authors’ idea of “experienced driver” is a person age 21 or over who has held a commercial driver’s license for at least two years and has a year of commercial motor vehicle operating experience. This does not constitute experience.

Rather than looking to employ less-safe teenage truck drivers to cover up the staggeringly high trucker turnover rate of over 90 percent, members of the industry and lawmakers should focus their efforts on addressing the underlying factors leading to high churn. Unpaid detention time, unrealistic routes and predatory lease-purchase agreements motivate truck operators to engage in dangerous driving behaviors and discourage drivers from continuing in this profession.

Turnover rates will not come down as teen truckers encounter the same issues that have led to an exodus of older drivers who have devoted their lives to trucking. Likewise, truck crashes, which are at their highest levels in the past 20 years, as well as the resulting deaths and injuries, will not abate as shippers and mega motor carriers opt for the less experienced, less expensive drivers in lieu of safe, properly compensated operators with decades of experience.

Another solution to the perceived shortage would be to make trucking a more appealing profession for women. Currently, just 6 to 7 percent of truck drivers are women. So rather than attempting to permit less safe, less mature, less reliable teenagers to operate trucks that could weigh more than 80,000 pounds, hire more women above the age of 21, who are statistically safer drivers than men ages 18 to 20.

The DRIVE-Safe Act was given a purposely deceptive name to fool the public, as it will do nothing to promote driving safely and will only make matters worse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Russ Swift of Wales is co-chair of Parents Against Tired Truckers. He has been advocating to make trucking safer since his son, Marine Cpl. Jasen Swift, was killed in a crash involving a teenage truck driver.

Link: https://www.pressherald.com/2018/07/28/commentary-teenagers-too-young-to-be-trusted-behind-the-wheel-of-a-big-truck/

TSC Statement Opposing H.R. 6159

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) opposes H.R. 6159 – the latest effort to undermine the effectiveness of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. The purpose of the legislation is to “conduct a study to determine how many “employees” who must comply with the electronic logging device requirements… have ceased being operators of a “commercial motor vehicle” as a result of such requirements.” In short, the bill’s sponsor wants to know how many truck drivers left the trucking industry because they can no longer exceed their hours of service.

The ELD mandate did not change the existing Hours of Service rules; it changed the methodology by which truck drivers record their driving time. Since going into effect, the ELD mandate has exposed unsafe motor carriers who have been imposing grueling schedules on their drivers, requiring them to drive in excess of legal limits in order to make a living. The response by members of the industry and lawmakers should not be to return to the system that allowed such problems to exist, but rather to do something meaningful to ensure that drivers can operate both safely and profitably.

Rather than waste the taxpayers money on another attempt to weaken the safety rules, it is time for lawmakers to fix the underlying problems motivating dangerous driving. This is the eighth bill introduced in this Congress to weaken the ELD mandate, despite the fact that Congress originally mandated ELDs several years ago, and that recent Department of Transportation data shows the number of HOS-related violations has actually gone down since the mandate took effect.

At the same time, there has not been a single bill introduced to address unpaid detention time, lack of adequate parking, or the pay-per-mile structure employed throughout most of the industry. These reforms would actually protect truck drivers’ safety and bottom-lines, which, in turn, would reduce the incredibly high turnover rate and the number of truck crashes. Giving cover to bad actors will not; it will solely serve to benefit them as they drag down the image of their fellow truck drivers and, more importantly, diminish safety on our roads.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knox News: Duncan amendment is Trojan horse that will reduce trucker safety

Published 6:00 a.m. ET June 11, 2018 

An amendment has been offered by U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan, R-Tenn., to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill (H.R.4) “to enhance interstate commerce by creating a national hiring standard for motor carriers, and for other purposes.” Unfortunately, this amendment will do neither. In actuality, this language will limit shipper and broker responsibility and liability as it pertains to hiring motor carriers.

Safety cannot be accomplished until the entire supply chain is accountable. The required actions identified in the Duncan amendment set a standard for shippers and brokers at such a very low threshold that it would actually reduce safety accountability. The three actions required are so easily attained that many high-risk and chameleon carriers would qualify under this set of criteria.

Per the amendment language, an entity will “be deemed to have made the selection of the motor carrier in a reasonable and prudent manner” if they ensure that the carrier is:

1. Registered with and authorized by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to operate as a motor carrier or household goods motor carrier, if applicable;

2. Has the minimum insurance coverage required by federal regulation; and

3. Does not have an unsatisfactory rating under the current rating or any future safety fitness determination rule.

Bare-minimum compliance should not qualify as an accepted standard of safety. Doing so will promote a race to the bottom by allowing shippers and brokers to use insufficient information in determining which carrier to use. None of the criteria specified above reflect on the current safety performance of a carrier. Consequently, this will lead to low-cost, unsafe carriers being selected, exposing the public to physical and financial risk. Yet, it is in everyone’s best interest for the safest companies to earn the business.

A satisfactory rating assigned at one point in time is the bare minimum that allows a carrier to operate. A carrier or driver that has not yet been prohibited from driving cannot be assumed to uphold safe operating practices, especially considering that many ratings are more than 10 years old. Nevertheless, based on the amendment’s language, this could mean that a shipper or broker could ignore a carrier’s recent performance-based data during the selection process.

Hopefully, Congress will reject the language in the Duncan amendment. This Trojan horse amendment disguises the indemnification of shippers and brokers as the creation of a national safety standard. However, these “standards” contain no safety performance data and unfairly restrict other parties that may have been adversely affected in a truck crash. If Congress truly believes that safety should be a key part of any purchasing decision by shippers and brokers, they will oppose the deceptive and dangerous Duncan amendment.

By Randy Higginbotham.

Link: https://www.knoxnews.com/story/opinion/columnists/2018/06/11/duncan-amendment-trojan-horse-reduce-trucker-safety-randy-higginbotham/619524002/

TSC Statement Opposing FMCSA’s Revised Guidances on Personal Conveyance and Transportation of Agricultural Commodities

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), and our volunteers, who are the family and friends of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, strongly oppose the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) revisions to the regulatory guidance concerning the transportation of agricultural commodities as well as personal conveyance. These changes will complicate enforcement efforts, devalue drivers’ time, and erode safety on our roads.

As we have noted multiple times, truck safety continues to decline. In 2016, nearly half a million truck crashes occurred in the U.S., resulting in 145,000 injuries and 4,317 children, siblings, and parents being needlessly killed. These figures should give anyone pause, especially the policymakers at the FMCSA who are charged with promoting commercial vehicle safety. Unfortunately, these revised guidances, will likely lead to a greater likelihood of driver fatigue. They also reveal that the agency is less concerned with advancing well-researched regulations and more focused on appeasing a select, loud, contingent of truck drivers who are upset that they can no longer exceed the hours of service limits by falsely recording their hours in paper logbooks.

Both of the revised guidances fail to address the underlying issues motivating dangerous driving behaviors such as speed or exceeding the hours or service limits. Pay-per-mile, the preferred payment structure throughout the trucking industry, penalizes the driver – who arguably has the less control over his route than any other party involved in the transfer of freight via trucking. Under this pay structure, truck drivers are not paid if their wheels are not moving. It should come as no surprise then that more than seven out of 10 long haul truck drivers reported continuing to drive despite fatigue, bad weather, or heavy traffic because they needed to deliver or pick up a load at a given time.

Granting an exemption from the ELD mandate for trucks carrying agricultural commodities, however, will not change the sad fact that all too many truck drivers, including ag-haulers, are given unrealistic routes and/or inadequate pay. Moreover, an exemption to the Hours of Service rules for agriculture and livestock already exist, despite there being no research-based reason for granting the arbitrary 150-air mile radius exemption. Now, there are efforts in Congress asking for even more waivers and exemptions to the HOS and ELD Mandates for this sector of trucking; again, proponents asking to double the air mile radius for ag-haulers lack data to support their claims.

By granting the use of personal conveyance time, regardless of whether the vehicle is laden, the FMCSA has greatly blunted one of the main benefits of ELDs – accurately counting the number of hours driven versus hours worked per day. Although the agency determined that, “a driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier,” they almost immediately contradict themselves by noting that, “personal conveyance does not reduce a driver’s or motor carrier’s responsibility to operate a CMV safety.” These irreconcilable assertions underscore the reason why the Federal Highway Administration issued a guidance more than two decades ago “explicitly excluding the use of laden vehicles as personal conveyance:” so long as a vehicle is laden, the driver is responsible for the load he is transporting until it is transferred to the next party in the supply chain.

Under this new guidance though, the Agency is replacing an objective standard, i.e. whether the truck is laden or it is not laden, with a subjective standard that is based on “the reason a driver is operating the CMV while off duty, without regard to whether the CMV is or is not laden.” Consequently, there will be no way for law enforcement officers to empirically assess a truck driver’s intent or whether or not the CMV operator is actually using his or her vehicle for personal conveyance. This lack of clarity for the industry and law enforcement will entice bad actors to misuse personal conveyance to gain an unfair competitive advantage over law-abiding operators at the expense of everyone’s safety on our roads.

To make matters worse, the intent of the FMCSA’s personal conveyance guidance is to eliminate what the agency claims is a disparate impact on drivers of single-unit trucks that has occurred because of the previous guidance. Yet, the FMCSA has not furnished any data or analysis to support this claim nor have they conducted a study to determine its validity.

We strongly urge the FMCSA to remember their mission and reverse these unsafe guidances.

 

STATEMENT OF JENNIFER TIERNEY ON “FAST ACT IMPLEMENTATION: MOTOR CARRIER PROVISIONS” BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HIGHWAYS AND TRANSIT

Introduction

Good morning Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Norton and Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Jennifer Tierney and I am a board member of the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation as well as one of millions of Americans whose loved one was killed in a truck crash. I traveled to be here today from my home town of Kernersville, North Carolina, and am pleased to see my fellow North Carolinians on this Subcommittee, Congressmen Meadows (R-NC-11) and Rouzer (R-NC-7). My motivation to be testifying before you comes from the loss of my daddy, James Mooney, and the goal of preventing other families from suffering preventable truck crash fatalities and injuries. My dad was killed in a horrific truck crash on a dark back country road when he crashed into the side of a truck trailer blocking the roadway. The truck, which was in a jackknife position, did not have working lights, reflective tape or underride guards. Since that time nearly 35 years ago, I have served as a volunteer for CRASH which has teamed up with Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) to form the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), whom I am here representing. TSC coordinates thousands of volunteers across the nation who are truck crash survivors as well as families and friends of truck crash victims. Our volunteer network educates the public and lawmakers about data-driven policies to improve truck safety.

Truck Safety is Declining at an Alarming Rate

Unfortunately, I do not have good news to share with you today regarding the status of truck safety on our Nation’s roadways. Truck crashes, deaths and injuries have been dramatically rising in recent years. Since 2009, annual truck crash fatalities have increased by 28 percent. In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in truck crashes, and early data for 2017 indicates truck crash fatalities are up another 10 percent. During that same time, truck crashes and resulting injuries have also risen to 475,000, and 145,000 respectively. Despite these worsening trends, key safety initiatives that could both mitigate and prevent truck crashes continue to languish or even worse — have been withdrawn.

We cannot accept these intolerable figures as the cost of doing business or allow ourselves to fall into complacency when we have available countermeasures to curb this needless carnage. The reality is that the annual truck crash fatality toll amounts to over two dozen commercial airplane crashes each year. Yet, our nation responds to truck crash fatalities and airplane crash fatalities in starkly different ways. Just last month, we tragically experienced the first death in a commercial airline incident in nine years. Newspapers and telecasts covered it, the National Safety Transportation Board sent a team to investigate it, and there was palpable public interest in preventing it from occurring again. Meanwhile, that same day, roughly 1,300 truck crashes occurred, killing 12 people and injuring 400 more (figures based on averages). There was no national coverage, no federal investigation, and no public outcry.

The good news that I do have to share with you is that we have proven solutions that can reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and most importantly, save lives. My comments will focus on the following policies that can improve truck safety and the appropriate steps to implementing and enforcing them.

• Finalize Rulemakings:
o Automatic Emergency Braking
o Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

• Reinstate Rulemakings:
o Increasing Minimum Insurance Levels
o Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

• Modify Rules:
o Entry Level Driver Training

• Promulgate Rulemakings:
o Strengthen Rear Underride Guards
o Require Side Underride Guards
o Study Front Underride Guards

• Fully Implement Final Rules:
o Electronic Logging Devices
o Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

• Reject Policies:
o Increase Truck Size
o Increase Truck Weight
o Limit Shipper and Broker Liability

Finalize Rulemakings:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a proven technology that leading trucking companies and other countries have been using for years to reduce the number of crashes their truck drivers are involved in and to mitigate the severity of truck crashes that do occur. The Truck Safety Coalition as well as other safety advocates filed a petition to initiate a rulemaking that would mandate automatic emergency braking, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) granted in October of 2015. Since then, the agency has taken no further regulatory action. This should change immediately, and I urge Members to require NHTSA to take immediate action for several reasons.

The benefits of AEB technology are well known. In the United States, some motor carriers have been using AEB for at least 10 years and have established beyond question its effectiveness and reliability. For example, Schneider National, a major trucking company, experienced a 69 percent decrease in rear-end crashes and 95 percent reduction in rear-end collision claims since it began equipping all new tractors with OnGuard Collision Mitigation Systems in 2012. Likewise, Con-way (now a part of XPO Logistics) saw reductions in their rear-end crashes after they equipped their trucks with AEB. The company 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. They found that 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.

Yet, data from NHTSA indicates truck crashes continue to increase thus unsafe companies are getting in more crashes at a faster rate than these companies are reducing their collisions. From 2009 to 2016, the number of trucks involved in crashes in which a truck rear-ended a passenger vehicle went up by 82 percent. This shows that while voluntarily adoption is admirable, it is not enough.

In 2012, the European Union (EU) mandated all new trucks to be equipped with AEB beginning in 2015. This was just one more step towards safety that the U.S. can and should take to achieve similar truck safety improvements to the EU. In 2009, the EU experienced roughly 1,600 more annual fatalities resulting from large truck crashes than the U.S., but by 2015, the EU saw approximately 200 fewer people dying in these types of crashes on their roads. Clearly, policymakers are doing something right in the EU to experience such drastic reductions in truck crash deaths.

In addition to experiencing far greater reductions in truck crash fatalities compared to the U.S., the EU may have also benefitted from this technology in mitigating the damage of a terrorist act. Some newspapers reported that automatic emergency braking was engaged during the Berlin truck attack, thus limiting the number of people who could have been killed and injured. Considering the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) put out an advisory to rental truck companies concerning a rise in vehicle-ramming attacks, I urge this Subcommittee to also consider the national security benefits requiring this technology can provide.

Moreover, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has voiced support for this technology. The ATA stated that they “strongly recommend that all vehicles (light and heavy) be equipped with forward collision warning and mitigation braking technology.” Given the data as well as industry support, we urge this Subcommittee to take action to require all new trucks are equipped with AEB.

Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

A final rule requiring the use of speed limiting technology set at 65 mph or lower should apply to all large trucks. There is a plethora of evidence confirming the effectiveness of speed limiters in improving safety. A recent study out of Ontario found that the incidence of heavy trucks speeding in a crash dropped 73 percent following implementation of the Providence’s speed limiter mandate. Moreover, the Ontario study directly debunked the claim that speed differentials would lead to an increase in overall crashes involving big rigs, finding no evidence of such an increase. In addition to the promising data out of Canada, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) own road-based study found that heavy trucks not using their speed limiters were in twice the rate of highway-speed crashes as those using them.

Moreover, this life-saving technology has been a standard component in most trucks’ engine control modules since the 1990s because so many other countries already mandate their use on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). As a result, most trucks would not require a retrofit but would instead simply need to have their speed limiter set. It should also be noted that numerous American companies use speed limiters voluntarily because it improves their profitability, operational efficiency, and safety. Additionally, speed governed trucks save motor carriers significant money on fuel, and on maintenance costs for tires and brakes, which last longer by limiting excessive speeding that can exacerbate normal wear and tear.

Considering the studies highlighting the benefits and the successful adoption by safety-conscious companies, we urge this Subcommittee to take action to require speed limiter use by all trucks, existing and new.

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

Increasing the Minimum Level of Insurance

The minimum level of insurance of $750,000 has not been increased in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. The fact of the matter is that nothing costs the same today as it did back in 1980, which is why it is absurd that the minimum level of insurance required by trucks per incident has not been increased since then. 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 that is wrought by their crashes.

Moreover, minimum levels of insurance were meant to serve as a barrier to entry for unsafe carriers and to shift the burden of oversight from the government to the private sector. Yet, these amounts are currently so inadequate that insurers fail to apply appropriate scrutiny, which allows chameleon carriers to enter the market, with no underwriting, and simply close down and reincorporate under a new name following a catastrophic crash. For the minimum insurance level to serve as a significant incentive for carriers to operate safely as Congress intended, it must be updated to reflect the current realities of the industry. Since 1980, truck weight limits have increased significantly as have speed limits for trucks; the combination of these two changes means that crash severity has increased.

Unfortunately, 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 insufficient compensation, 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 while socializing the costs of underinsured trucking.

We urge this Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to reinstate its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to increase the minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers. As an alternative, members of the Subcommittee can direct the Secretary of Transportation to take immediate action to index the level to inflation, which can be accomplished without a rulemaking.

Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

Truck driver fatigue and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are major, well-known problems in the industry. OSA is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with OSA 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. In fact, truck drivers who fail adhere to treatment for OSA are five times more likely to get involved in a crash than a truck driver who is on treatment.

We urge the Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to reinstate the rulemaking requiring OSA screening.

Modify Rules:

Entry Level Driver Training

Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations, according to the Department of Labor. Currently there is no minimum requirement for behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours; therefore, the agency is not be able to ensure that commercial driver 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 agents. Other transportation-related professions, like commercial pilots, are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to complete more than 250 hours of flight time – their version of “BTW” training.

We urge this Subcommittee to require the FMCSA to modify the Entry-Level Driver Training rule to include a minimum BTW training requirement.

Promulgate Rulemakings:

Rear and Side Underride Guards

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. A requirement for all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear and side underride guards would protect car occupants from underride crashes.

We are incredibly grateful to Subcommittee Member Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN) for introducing the Stop Underrides Act (H.R. 4622) and to the other Representatives on the Subcommittee who are cosponsors. We are similarly thankful to Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) for introducing the Senate version, S. 2219. This lifesaving legislation will strengthen rear underride guards, mandate side underride guards, and require proper maintenance of these guards. The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers call on all Members of Congress to join this bipartisan effort to reduce the unnecessary deaths and injuries that occur because of truck underride collisions.

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.

The NTSB has continually issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards and for side underride protection systems. They identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety. Additionally, an advisory committee on Police Accident Reports (PAR) also found that most states did not have a box on their PAR in which to indicate if underride occurred. Absent applicable and available data, policy-makers may fail to identify the true scope of truck underride collisions.

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2016. 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 — like the one that killed my dad — comprised 18 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2016. 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. After ten years of pushing, I was finally able to secure a requirement that reflective tape be placed on tractor-trailers to make them more visible, especially at night. However, side underride guards that can prevent and mitigate these collisions are commercially available and should be standard equipment.

Unfortunately, since granting petitions for rulemaking back in 2014, NHTSA has taken no action, aside from issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers and the ANPRM for rear guards for single unit trucks. Additionally, the agency has taken no action to evaluate side underride guards. We urge all Subcommittee members to join us in supporting the Stop Underrides Act to address these preventable tragedies.

Fully Implement Final Rules

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD)
An electronic logging device (ELD) is a critical safety technological device to ensure compliance of the federal hours of service (HOS) rules. In 2018, the requirement that all trucks be equipped with ELDs took effect. Unfortunately, some special interests are arguing that ELDs are cost prohibitive. However, the reality is that they are less expensive than replacing a few truck tires. These attempts to delay, weaken, or reverse the ELD rule should be swiftly and soundly rejected. Similarly, efforts to allow exemptions for specific industries or special interests will adversely affect safety in the short-term and long-term.

Updating the methodology by which HOS are recorded is long overdue. ELD technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. This rule 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 HOS rules.

Additionally, the ELD mandate will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS 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 ELDs, the Truck Safety Coalition opposes any further delay or exemptions to the mandate. There has been ample time for members of the industry to transition from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices. Furthermore, 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 five-year delay that would ultimately result in an estimated 130 fatalities and 2,810 injuries.

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 CMV drivers applying for jobs and identify drivers who have previously failed 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. The FMCSA issued a final rule, which will take effect in 2020, and we urge all Subcommittee members to ensure this rule is fully implemented so this will no longer be the case.

Reject Policies

During a time when truck safety is in serious decline, increasing truck size and weight or limiting shipper and broker liability would be steps in the wrong direction.

Truck Size Increase

Increasing the length of double tractor-trailers by five feet per trailer would result in a configuration that is approximately the size of an 8-story building. These massive configurations would be more difficult to operate. For example, double 33s require an additional 22 feet to stop compared to existing twin-trailer configurations. Making it more challenging to brake in a vehicle that requires the length of a football field to stop when traveling 60 mph will not help address the 45 percent increase in truck occupant fatalities. If anything, it may cause that number to rise even more precipitously.

Proponents of the Double 33 proposal have been misleading lawmakers about the costs and consequences of longer tandem trailers. As with past size and weight increases — coupled with less intermodal efficiencies and increases in freight — we would likely start to see a greater number of larger trucks on our roads. Our roads and bridges will also suffer from longer and heavier trucks because these bigger trucks will result in greater wear and tear on our already-crumbling infrastructure.

Truck Weight Increase

Those lobbying for pilot programs, state/industry exemptions, or nationwide increases to permit heavier trucks are likewise disseminating questionable claims about how a weight increase will improve safety, reduce congestion, or diminish wear and tear on our roads and bridges. Pilot programs are a piecemeal approach that makes enforcement and compliance more difficult while compelling states with reasonable truck size and weight limits to succumb to pressure for higher weights and longer trucks. The addition of an extra axle will do nothing to mitigate the damage to bridges resulting from the operation of heavier trucks. Moreover, in the event a heavier truck is involved in a crash, the crash severity could be much greater and inflict more damage to the infrastructure.

Shipper Broker Liability

Members should reject all legislative attempts “to enhance interstate commerce by creating a national hiring standard for motor carriers, and for other purposes.” Despite sounding pro-safety, this deceptive and dangerous policy will neither “enhance interstate commerce,” nor truly “[create] a national hiring standard.” In actuality, this policy is a Trojan horse: it disguises the indemnification of shippers and brokers as the creation of a national safety standard. Yet, these “standards” offered contain no safety performance data and unfairly restrict other parties who may have been adversely impacted in a truck crash.

The entire supply chain must be accountable to accomplish safety. The required actions identified by this proposal set a standard for shippers and brokers at such a very low threshold that it would actually serve to reduce safety accountability. The three actions required are so easily attained that many high-risk and chameleon carriers would qualify under this set of criteria.

Per language that has been introduced as an amendment to H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization bill, an entity will “be deemed to have made the selection of the motor carrier in a reasonable and prudent manner” if they ensure that the carrier is:
1. registered with and authorized by FMCSA to operate as a motor carrier or household goods motor carrier, if applicable;
2. has the minimum insurance coverage required by Federal regulation; and,
3. does not have an unsatisfactory rating under the current rating or any future safety fitness determination rule.

Policymakers cannot accept bare minimum compliance as a standard of safety lest they intend to promote a race to the bottom. None of the criteria specified above reflect on the current safety performance of a carrier. Consequently, this will lead to low-cost, unsafe carriers being selected, exposing the public to physical and financial risk. It is in everyone’s best interest for the safest companies to earn the business.

A carrier or driver that has been given a satisfactory rating at one point in time or has not yet been prohibited from operating cannot be assumed to be currently upholding safe operating practices, especially considering that many ratings are more than 10 years old. Based on the amendment’s language, however, a shipper or broker could ignore a carrier’s recent performance based data during the selection process so long as that carrier does not have an unsatisfactory rating.

Conclusion

It has become clear that the U.S. Department of Transportation, and even some Members of this Congress have no intention of producing meaningful mandates that will “solve current problems,” and every intention of removing regulations for the sake of removing regulations.

As it pertains to the Executive branch, 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. At the same time, this Administration has already withdrawn two rulemakings and delayed four rulemakings – all of which could have improved truck safety.

Concerning Congress, actions thus far belie any sense of urgency to improve truck safety. Bills to allow teenage truck drivers, who have been proven less safe than more experienced drivers, to operate across state lines are this body’s “best” response to a perceived driver shortage rather than reforming entry-level driver training or moving away from a pay-per-mile structure. Anecdotes about the effects of ELDs have been given the same stock as data collected by large carriers over several years. Technologies that have been proven through extensive use to improve operational safety of a truck are continually delayed in the rulemaking process, while lawmakers invite lobbyists to pen themselves provisions permitting bigger, more difficult to operate trucks into must-pass spending bills.

Moving forward, I am hopeful members of the Subcommittee will prioritize safety and remember that the death and injury figures are not merely statistics but people, like my daddy, who were needlessly killed or hurt in a truck crash.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and I am pleased to answer your questions.

TSC Statement Opposing REST Act

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) strongly opposes any attempt to weaken current Hours of Service rules, which includes the recently introduced The Responsible and Effective Standards for Truckers (REST) Act. This legislation is irresponsible with regards to safety and does not implement effective standards for truck drivers. It just makes the workday longer for truck drivers and the roads less safe at a time when truck crashes, injuries, and deaths continue to rise.

Currently, most truck drivers can drive up to 11 hours per day and work up to 14 hours per day, with a required 30-minute break. This legislation would effectively extend the workday by three hours from its current top limit of 14 hours. It would also inexplicably eliminate the 30-minute rest mandate. Increasing the workday total from 14 hours to 17 hours will not reduce the likelihood that a truck driver is operating while fatigued, which should be a focus of the Congress considering that approximately 65% of truck drivers reported that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving according to the FMCSA.

This legislation also fails to address a real motivator of dangerous driving behavior: the per-mile pay structure. Most truck drivers are paid by the mile rather than by the hour, which results in many of them experiencing unpaid detention time. If a truck driver is only paid when there wheels are moving, increasing the non-driving workday by three hours, which the REST Act would do, could potentially result in more time that truck drivers work while not being paid for it. This may help shippers, brokers, and motor carriers but it will come at the expense of truck drivers and the public with whom they share the road.

Lastly, the Hours of Service rules underwent rigorous data collection and analysis, public hearings, and Congressional review before being mandated. The REST Act did not. The legislation rests upon the anecdotal evidence of a loud minority of truck drivers who are disgruntled about being given routes that are unrealistic under the Hours of Service rules and who must now face the reality that some of their routes are not legally achievable due to the Electronic Logging Device rule keeping them honest.

Letter Opposing WHEEL Act and DRIVE-Safe Act

April 13, 2018

The Honorable Bill Shuster, Chairman

The Honorable Peter DeFazio, Ranking Member

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C.  20515

Dear Chairman Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio:

We write to inform you of our strong opposition to legislative proposals which would allow teenagers to drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).  Of major concern are two bills that have been referred to your Committee — H.R. 5358, the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act and H.R. 3889, the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor (WHEEL) Act.  As the nation’s leading organizations and associations representing public health, consumers, safety and American truckers, we are certain these efforts would not only be detrimental to road safety, but also to those seeking to enter the trucking industry as professional drivers.

Younger drivers both lack overall experience and are less safe behind the wheel than their older counterparts. In fact, CMV drivers under the age of 19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, and CMV drivers who are 19-20 years of age are six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. Research has shown that most drivers under the age of 21 lack the general maturity, skill and judgment that is necessary in handling CMVs, while other studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex — the portion of the brain responsible for complex cognitive behavior and decision making — does not fully develop until a person is in their mid20s. The current federal age requirement of 21 for the interstate operation of a CMV reflects these realities.  However, under these proposals, teenagers entering an apprenticeship and/or participating in a pilot program may have only recently received a full driver’s license from their state to operate an automobile, let alone a CMV.  Some may not have even gone through a graduated driver licensing (GDL) program, which allows novice drivers to gradually gain driving experience under more complex conditions.

While we appreciate the inclusion of minimum training standards in H.R. 5358, such as mandatory behind-the-wheel requirements, they are woefully inadequate.  For example, the first probationary period only consists of 80 hours of behind-the-wheel training which can be completed in a little over one work week. Moreover, the 160 hours of driving time in the second probationary period can be covered in just an additional two weeks. We also have serious concerns about who will be permitted to train new entrants. The experience requirements for those training apprentices in the bill are seriously insufficient and, if enacted, could allow even young apprentice drivers to qualify as trainers the moment they turn 21.

Both bills also exacerbate a foundational safety problem in the trucking industry.  Rather than proposing dangerous initiatives to get teenagers behind the wheel of 80,000 pound trucks, Congress should instead be focusing on the causes of the staggering driver turnover rate, which remains above 90% among large truckload carriers, and its impact on safety. This perilously high rate decreases safety, as drivers who leave the workforce are immediately replaced with less experienced individuals in an effort to keep labor costs as low as possible and avoid improving working conditions.

We have significant concerns about corporate proponents of these proposals using the guise of a national driver shortage to use less expensive and less experienced labor. In 2001, a petition was filed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to lower the federal Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) age requirement to 18, citing a driver shortage as the primary reason for the effort.  FMCSA declined to lower the minimum age for an unrestricted CDL because the agency could not conclude that the safety performance of younger drivers was on par with, or even close to, that of older CMV drivers.  The public overwhelmingly rejected the idea with 96 percent of individuals who responded opposing the proposal along with 88 percent of the truck drivers and 86 percent of the motor carriers after FMCSA posted the petition in the Federal Register.

In the nearly 20 years since the petition, there has never been a significant disruption in the delivery of goods by truck due to a lack of drivers and hundreds of thousands of new CDLs have been issued each year. Over this time, driver compensation has remained relatively stagnant, failing to increase at a rate that even reflects inflation. While we would prefer to assume most motor carriers participating in the apprentice and/or pilot program would do so with the best of intentions, experience tells us many will unfortunately use the initiative to take advantage of teenagers, whom they view as cheaper labor.

Because younger drivers are subjected to increasingly poor working conditions, unknowingly sign predatory lease-to-own schemes and regularly receive inadequate compensation, they rarely stay in the job long enough to accumulate the experience necessary to operate a heavy vehicle in safe and responsible manner. Ignoring these basic facts and promoting policies to get even younger drivers in the cab of a truck will only compound today’s turnover crisis and make our roads less safe. We urge you to oppose H.R. 5358 and H.R. 3889.

Sincerely,

Catherine Chase, President

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Todd Spencer, Acting President & CEO

Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association

Joan Claybrook, Chair

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH)

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, Executive Director

American Public Health Association

Steve Owings, Co-Founder and President

Road Safe America

Dawn King, President

Truck Safety Coalition

Jack Gillis, Director of Public Affairs

Consumer Federation of America

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member

The CRASH Foundation

Daphne Izer, Co-Chair

Parents Against Tired Truckers

Stephen W. Hargarten, M.D., MPH

Society for the Advancement of Violence and Injury Research

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director

National Consumers League

Rosemary Shahan, President

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director

Trauma Foundation

Janette Fennell, Founder and President

KidsAndCars.org

cc: Members of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure

Letter of Opposition to HR 5358 and HR 3889

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.

###

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 

 

Wall Street Journal: Longer, Heavier Trucks Are a Serious Hazard

My own experience informs my serious concerns with making trucks even longer.

The public should urge their lawmakers to oppose efforts by FedEx and UPS to increase the national twin-trailer standard to 33 feet from 28 feet per trailer (Letters, Feb. 6). Granting this corporate giveaway will permit longer trucks on our roads, which will erode safety and adversely affect our nation’s infrastructure.

My own experience informs my serious concerns with making trucks even longer. In August 2010, my wife, Susan, was killed and my sons, Peter and Matthew (who is now permanently disabled), were injured in a crash after a truck driver operating a triple tractor-trailer fell asleep and crashed into the back of their vehicle.

Unfortunately, crashes in which a truck rear ends a passenger vehicle have skyrocketed, increasing 82% from 2009 to 2015, as calculated by the Truck Safety Coalition. Introducing trucks that require an additional 22 feet to brake will exacerbate this trend.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, any reduction in truck-vehicle miles traveled would be wiped out within one year by increases and shifts in freight transportation. The study also found that permitting double 33s would incur a one-time cost of $1.1 billion to strengthen and replace more than 2,000 bridges. This finding dispels the claim that the “trucking industry foots the bill.”

Instead of demanding longer trucks that require a greater distance to stop, companies should look to technologies, such as automatic emergency braking, speed limiters and underride protections to enhance safety, protect our infrastructure and improve their bottom lines.

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, Md.

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/longer-heavier-trucks-are-a-serious-hazard-1518467727 

Published: Feb. 12, 2018 3:35 p.m. ET

 

TSC Opposes WHEEL Act

The Truck Safety Coalition is strongly opposed to the Waiving Hindrances to Economic Enterprise and Labor Act (WHEEL Act). This legislation is a misguided attempt to address a perceived shortage of truck drivers, which is, in actuality, a driver retention and turnover problem. Allowing these demonstrably higher risk teen drivers to get behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound big rig will make our roads less safe and do nothing to address issues like entry-level driver training, unpaid detention time, and available and safe truck parking.

For one, the data demonstrates that younger drivers are more likely to crash than drivers who are older than 21 years of age. In 2013, all drivers ages 18-20 had a fatal crash involvement rate, per 100,000 licensed drivers, that was 66 percent higher than drivers who were age 21 years or older.

Supporters of the legislation note that people age 18-20 can obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate within a state, so therefore therefor these younger, less safe drivers should be able to operate across state lines as well. This ignores a troubling statistic: truck drivers, age 18-20, have crash rates that are four to six times higher than those of mature truck drivers are.

Permitting teen truckers on the road has been and continues to be rejected by the public. In 2001, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rejected lowering the age limit for commercial driver’s licenses because there was no proof that the safety performance of younger drivers would be anywhere close to that of older drivers. The proposal was also overwhelmingly rejected by those who responded to public comment period; with 96 percent of individuals, 88 percent of the truck drivers, and 86 percent of the motor carriers opposed to this.

 

 

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

Truck Safety Coalition Statement on Introduction of the Stop Underrides Act of 2017

We commend Senator Gillibrand, Senator Rubio, and Representative Cohen and Representative DeSaulnier for sponsoring the Stop Underrides Act. This lifesaving legislation will strengthen rear underride guards, mandate side underride guards, and require proper maintenance of these guards. The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers call on all Members of Congress to join this bipartisan effort to reduce the unnecessary deaths and injuries that occur because of truck underride collisions.

In 2016, there were 4,317 truck crash fatalities in the United States, an increase of 28 percent since 2009. Unfortunately, this deeply troubling safety trend is in line with trends for truck crashes and truck crash injuries, which rose 45 percent and 57 percent, respectively, between 2009 and 2015. This does not need to be the case.

There are existing, data-driven solutions that can be implemented today to prevent truck crashes and save lives, like mandating comprehensive underride protections on all trucks. Today is certainly a step in the right direction, but there is still a long road to zero truck crash fatalities and injuries. Until we achieve that ultimate goal, we will continue to work with families of victims and survivors of large truck crashes as well as policy-makers to improve truck safety on our roads.

###

Letter to House T&I Committee Regarding Hearing on “Emerging Technologies in the Trucking Industry”

December 11, 2017

The Honorable Sam Graves, Chairman

The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Graves and Ranking Member Norton:

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and Road Safe America (RSA) thanks Members of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit for holding the important roundtable, “Emerging Technologies in the Trucking Industry.” We look forward to collaborating with Members of the Subcommittee, safety advocates, technology companies, and leaders in the trucking industry to determine the benefits of requiring currently available driver assisted technologies in commercial motor vehicles. We will also remain committed to working with all parties to create an oversight framework that ensures safety is the top priority in the development of future autonomous vehicle (AV) policies.

TSC and RSA recognize the potential safety benefits of AV technologies in trucking, especially at a time when truck crashes continue to climb. Since 2009, truck crashes have gone up by 45 percent, resulting in a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries. From 2009 to 2016, the number of truck crash fatalities increased 28 percent, totaling 4,317 fatalities. There are technologies, like automatic emergency braking and speed limiters, which have been proven effective by numerous motor carriers. Unfortunately, these regulations have not yet been finalized. This must change. These technologies can prevent crashes, reduce injuries, and save lives, all while enhancing the efficiency of motor carriers in a cost-beneficial manner.

Current Technologies

We are excited by the potential of AV technology to prevent and mitigate thousands of crashes in which human error is a factor, but want to remind lawmakers of their responsibility to ensure that the process for testing and developing these technologies in commercial motor vehicles does not jeopardize public safety. As we continue to discuss future autonomous vehicle technologies, we urge Members and policymakers to finalize rulemakings requiring automatic emergency braking (AEB) and heavy vehicle speed limiters on all class 7 and 8 trucks.

Mandating speed limiters be set on all such trucks is a commonsense step to improving truck safety that will produce more benefits than costs. Since the 1990s, speed limiter technology has been built into all such truck engine control modules, which eliminates the cost of installing this life saving technology. Additionally, motor carriers will see a return on investment by reducing their speed-related, at-fault crashes – some of the deadliest and costliest types of truck crashes. In fact, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation found that speed-related, at-fault truck crashes dropped by 73 percent after Ontario’s truck speed limiter mandate took effect. Moreover, the Ontario study debunked a common claim that requiring speed limiter settings on trucks would lead to an increase in crashes due to speed differentials.

Automatic emergency braking is not a new technology either. The European Union mandated AEB on large trucks back in 2012, requiring all new trucks to be equipped with it by 2015. Here in the U.S., motor carriers have been using AEB long enough to establish its effectiveness and reliability. In fact, 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.

Another large trucking company, performed an internal study over a 30-month period on approximately 12,600 of its trucks 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. 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.

Members of the Subcommittee should acknowledge the drastic reductions in truck crash fatalities in the European Union, which requires both speed limiters and automatic emergency braking. They should listen to safety officials of successful companies, like Mr. Woodruff of J.B. Hunt, who discussed at the roundtable the safety and cost benefits of equipping their trucks with a suite of safety technologies. The fact the 96 percent of J.B. Hunt’s fleet is equipped with a combination of technologies that has resulted in a 60 percent reduction in crashes is a clear, real-world example that the rest of the industry should follow.

We are hopeful that Members will join us in calling on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to finalize rulemakings for heavy vehicle speed limiters and automatic emergency braking. If we are truly serious about realizing a future with fully autonomous commercial vehicles, we must recognize that these technologies serve as building blocks to achieving that. More importantly, we must recognize that these technologies can improve safety today, rather than several years from now.

Autonomous Vehicle Technology

Fully autonomous trucks are both inevitable and fast approaching. The speed of the technological advancements in trucking, however, does not absolve the Department of Transportation (DOT) of its responsibility to promote safety across an industry that engages in Interstate commerce on publicly funded roads. The DOT cannot abide by a weak voluntary agreement. Instead, the Department must develop an oversight framework that protects public safety without inhibiting innovation.

It may only be several years before driver-assisted and autonomous commercial motor vehicles will be operating alongside driver-operated vehicles. Consequently, it will become increasingly important for the federal government to standardize the tests, methods, and metrics to determine the effectiveness of AV technology. Failure to do so could result in trucks operating with unreliable and unsafe technologies and testing that does not accurately assess whether a technology will perform as intended. This creates two potential problems: 1) a technology intended to make our roads safer will weaken safety on our roads, and 2) public confidence in this technology will erode, making it more difficult for manufacturers to roll out on a large scale.

No Exemptions for Trucks

Our organization supports several recommendations that we believe will make sure that the rollout of AV technology in trucks is both safe and smooth. There is an important role for federal oversight regarding the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle technology. Factors that should be considered in AV technology in trucks includes:

Manufacturers of AV Technology Requirements

  • AV systems must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards without any exemptions
  • AV systems must meet or exceed a “functional safety standard” as to be determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA)
  • AV systems must meet or exceed a minimum cybersecurity standard as to be issued by the Secretary within 3 years of enactment of this legislation
  • Submit a detailed report that analyzes the safety performance of automated driving systems and automated vehicles
  • Remove from operation any autonomous commercial motor vehicle with a defect
  • Determine whether a defect affects one vehicle or if the defect is fleet-wide
  • Report all fatal, injury and property damage only crashes involving driver-assisted and autonomous trucks to NHTSA
  • Establish a privacy plan

Motor Carrier Requirements for Testing

  • Apply for additional operation authority
  • An operator with a valid commercial driver’s license must be in the autonomous commercial motor vehicle at all times during testing

o   The operator shall have an additional endorsement on his CDL denoting that he has been adequately trained to manage the AV technologies in the truck

Secretary of Transportation Requirements

  • Establish a database for autonomous commercial vehicles. Information should include:

o   Vehicle’s identification number

o   Manufacturer, make, model and trim information

o   Level of automation and operational design domain of each of the vehicle’s automated driving systems

o   Any exemptions from federal motor vehicle safety standards granted to the vehicle

  • Promulgate a regulation on driver engagement
  • Determine any additional enforcement measures pertaining to AV technology that state and local law enforcement should consider during road side inspections
  • Request and direct additional resources to NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to develop regulations and execute enforcement efforts relating to AV technology.

AV technology can potentially eliminate many preventable injuries and needless deaths, but we strongly advise policy-makers to proceed prudently and ensure that safety is paramount in all discussions of it. We look forward to more opportunities to collaborate, like last week’s roundtable, to determine the benchmarks of adequate testing, the extent of federal oversight, and the details of safety standards as we work towards realizing driver assisted and autonomous trucks that reduce crashes, and the resulting death and injury tolls.

Sincerely,

John Lannen, Executive Director

Truck Safety Coalition

Steve Owings, Co-Founder

Road Safe America

cc: Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Letter to Subcommittee on Highways and Transit – Roundtable on Truck Technologies

ELD Letter to House Small Business Committee

November 28, 2017

The Honorable Steve Chabot, Chair

The Honorable Nydia Velazquez, Ranking Member

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Chabot and Ranking Member Velazquez:

As you prepare for tomorrow’s hearing, “Highway to Headache: Federal Regulations on the Small Trucking Industry,” our public health, safety and law enforcement organizations, trucking companies, truck drivers, families of loved ones killed in truck crashes and truck crash survivors write to express our staunch opposition to any attempts to delay, create special interest exemptions from, or impede full implementation of the long overdue electronic logging device (ELD) rule.

The rule requires most commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), namely large trucks and buses in interstate commerce, to install an ELD to track driver on-duty time by December 18, 2017. The regulation was required in bipartisan legislation, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21, P.L. 112-141), enacted in 2012. Subsequently, the regulation was issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2015.

Truck driver fatigue has been a well-documented safety problem in the industry for decades. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue-related crashes in its 2017/2018 “Most Wanted List” of safety changes. ELDs are a proven and cost-effective technology that will save lives and reduce injuries, and according to the U.S. Department of Transportation will result in over $1 billion in annualized net benefits. Additionally, ELDs provide an objective record of a CMV driver’s on-duty time, will increase compliance with hours of service (HOS) rules, and will simplify and streamline the efforts of law enforcement.

There already is widespread use of ELD technology in the United States and other countries. Nearly a third of trucks currently in service are equipped with electronic logging technology. Similar technology has been used in Europe for decades and is required in the European Union, Japan, and many other countries. Members of the trucking industry have known about this rule for years and have had ample time to prepare for it.

Moreover, the legal challenge to the final rule was unanimously rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in 2016. The three judge panel denied each and every claim brought by the parties that sought to vacate the rule. In addition, the request to the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Seventh Circuit’s ruling was denied.

Truck crash deaths and injuries are on the rise. In 2016, 4,317 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, representing an increase of more than five percent from the previous year and the highest number of fatalities since 2007. Additionally, in 2015, the most recent year for
which complete data is available, an estimated 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks.

We urge the Committee to oppose any weakening of this overdue, commonsense truck safety regulation. Delaying, deferring or carving out exemptions to the ELD requirement will only contribute to more fatigued commercial drivers sharing the road with families and jeopardizing everyone’s safety.


PDF Version of Letter with Signatures: ELD letter to Small Business Cmte 11-28-17

MEDIA AVAILABILITY

TRUCK CRASH FAMILIES AND SURVIVORS CALL ON

FMCSA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE RAYMOND MARTINEZ

TO FINALIZE KEY TRUCK SAFETY REGULATIONS

Truck Crash Fatalities Up 28 Percent Since 2009

As the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds a hearing on the nomination of Raymond Martinez to Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), truck crash survivors and families call on the nominee to finalize outstanding safety rules and improve commercial motor vehicle enforcement in the face of a seven-year increase in truck crash fatalities.

In 2016, there were 4,317 truck crash fatalities, an increase of 28 percent since 2009. Truck crash injuries also increased by 57 percent from 2009 to 2015.  Overall, truck crashes increased by 45 percent from 2009 to 2015, totaling 415,000 in 2015.

WHAT: Truck crash victims and families demand FMCSA take urgent action on key safety rulemakings that it has delayed or withdrawn that mandate measures to prevent crashes, reduce injuries, and save lives:

  • Release a Final Rule Requiring Speed Limiters on All Trucks: FMCSA and NHTSA granted petition for rulemaking in 2011, but the agencies have since delayed it more than 20 times. The current administration identified the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter Rule as a long-term action item in its Unified Agenda, meaning the agencies need a minimum of 12-months to proceed.
  • Require Sleep Apnea Screening for All Truck Drivers: The FMCSA abandoned its pursuit of a rulemaking to require screening and treatment for commercial motor vehicle drivers suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. FMCSA’s withdrawal of this important safety rulemaking ignores the advice of medical experts, fellow federal regulators and the agency’s own advisory committees.
  • Enforce Electronic Logging Device Mandate: The ELD final rule is set to take effect in December of this year, and the FMCSA must ensure that motor carriers are compliant with this life saving mandate.
  • Mandate Minimum Number of Hours of Behind-the-Wheel Entry Level Driver Training: The FMCSA blunted the safety potential of the entry-level driver-training rule by removing the requirement for a minimum number of hours for behind-the-wheel training from the final rule.
  • Increase Minimum Levels of Insurances Required by Trucks: In June 2017, the FMCSA withdrew an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to increase the minimum level of financial responsibility for trucks per incident. The $750,000 amount was set in 1980 and has not been increased, not even to account for inflation.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 31, 2017, 10 a.m. (Family Members Available For Interviews Before and After Hearing)

WHERE: Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253

WHO: Morgan Lake (Bowie, MD) On July 19, 2013, Morgan’s car was hit from behind by a distracted truck driver while slowed to a near stop for traffic on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, traveling at approximately 50 mph.

Ed Slattery (Lutherville, MD) Board Member, PATT. Ed’s wife Susan Slattery was killed and his sons Matthew and Peter Slattery were critically injured in a truck crash 8/16/10 after a truck driver, operating a triple tractor-trailer, fell asleep behind the wheel.

Dawn King (Davisburg, MI) President, Truck Safety Coalition. Dawn’s father, Bill Badger, was killed on December 23, 2004, just over the Georgia state border, by a tired trucker who fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into his car.

Available for Phone Interviews:

Kate Brown, Gurnee, IL | Minimum Insurance:  On May 2, 2005, in Round Lake, Illinois, Kate’s 27-year-old son Graham was hit by a drunk, drugged and fatigued truck driver who had fallen asleep, swerved into the oncoming lane, and hit Graham’s car sending it airborne into a field where it rolled over.  The driver stepped out of his rig and was witnessed saying he had been “partying all night.”  The driver’s blood and urine were taken, but the blood work was never tested although a crack pipe was found in his truck and cocaine and alcohol in his urine. The bloodwork mishandling enabled the driver to receive a lesser sentence. Due to life-threatening injuries, Graham underwent 22 different surgeries and endured three years of physical and occupational therapy. He is now permanently, partially disabled.

Steve Owings, Atlanta, GA (Co-Founder of Road Safe America) | Speed Limiters: Steve’s son Cullum was killed by a tractor-trailer on December 1, 2002, in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Cullum and his younger brother Pierce were on their way back to Washington and Lee University after spending Thanksgiving at home. They were stopped in traffic when a speeding tractor-trailer came up behind them. Cullum tried to swerve his car into the median, but the truck barreled into the driver’s side of his car, pinning Cullum and Pierce’s car against an embankment in the median. Pierce, survived with minor injuries while Cullum died before he could be retrieved from the car.

Wanda Lindsay, New Braunfels, TX (Founder of the John Lindsay Foundation) | Sleep Apnea Screening: Wanda and her husband John were on their way to Kentucky to visit family on May 7, 2010, when they stopped for traffic on I-30 as they were coming into Texarkana, Texas. They were the last car stopped in a two mile-long, very visible line of traffic, in a well-marked construction zone when a Celadon tractor-trailer slammed into the rear of their car. The truck was traveling 65 mph with the cruise control engaged when it hit John and Wanda. John died two days later on Mother’s Day, as a result of his extensive injuries. The Lindsay family later learned that two months prior to the collision the truck driver had been diagnosed with severe, uncontrolled sleep apnea, which results in chronic fatigue. Yet, he was still allowed to drive a truck even though he was not being treated and monitored for his condition.

Ron Wood, Washington, DC | Entry-Level Driver Training: On September 20, 2004, Ron’s mother Betsy Wood, sister Lisa Wood Martin and his sister’s three children, Chance, Brock and Reid Martin, were killed outside Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic on a busy North Texas highway. The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.  The truck driver eventually pleaded guilty to 10 counts of manslaughter in the 2004 crash. This crash prompted a Dallas Morning News investigative team to begin a fourteen month-long exploration that revealed unqualified drivers, dangerous working conditions, lack of safety inspections, and very little oversight.

The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), 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.

###

Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition on 2016 Increase in Truck Crash Fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of the 2016 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview revealed that in 2016, there were 4,317 fatalities in crashes involving large trucks – a 5.5 percent increase from 2015 and a 28 percent increase since 2009. Unfortunately, this increase in deaths is not surprising given the troubling safety trends that the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) has been highlighting since 2009.

Since 2009, TSC has been informing Congress of the worsening trends in truck safety as well as of the various commonsense solutions that they could implement to prevent truck crashes and reduce the resulting injuries and fatalities. Unfortunately, legislators lack a sense of urgency and regulators continue to delay data-driven technologies, like automatic emergency braking and heavy vehicle speed limiters. Those technologies have been implemented, with great results, throughout the world, but continue to stall here in the United States.

Unfortunately, the Department of Transportation has delayed or completely withdrawn other critical safety rules that would protect the public as well as the occupants of trucks. A rule requiring truck drivers to be screened for sleep apnea was scrapped. A rule requiring the minimum insurance for large trucks per incident be increased was withdrawn, even though it has not been raised once since the 1980s. And two rules requiring improvements to underride protections on trucks and trailers were delayed by at least a year.

Instead of passing bills stuffed with exemptions, delays, and regulatory rollbacks to appease special interests, like a weight exemption for North Dakota and a non-divisible exemption for milk, Congress must act now to stop preventable truck crash deaths and injuries on our nation’s highways. They can start by asking Secretary Chao why truck safety is trending in the wrong direction and how the actions the DOT has taken since January will reverse those trends.

Rolling back regulations that would ensure truck drivers are awake and alert, motor carriers are adequately insured, and trucks are crash compatible with cars to prevent underride, will do nothing to reduce the number truck crashes, prevent injuries, or save lives. The only thing DOT’s actions accomplish is protecting the bottom lines of some special interests and placating a small, loud group of unsafe truck drivers that see all regulation as bad.

If lawmakers and policymakers are serious about reducing the number deaths and injuries resulting from large truck crashes, they seriously need to readjust their strategy. This increase would not be tolerated if the mode of transportation were different. People would not fly if 83 people died on flights each week or if the number of fatalities went up by 28 percent since 2009.

###

STATEMENT OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON SENATE COMMERCE HEARING ON AUTONOMOUS TRUCKS

ARLINGTON, VA (September 13, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) thanks Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for holding this important hearing, “Transportation Innovation: Automated Trucks and our Nation’s Highways.” We look forward to working with members of the committee as well as safety advocates, technology companies, and leaders in the trucking industry to continue discussing the role of autonomous technologies in commercial motor vehicles and to develop an oversight framework that prioritizes safety first.

TSC recognizes the potential safety benefits of autonomous technologies in trucking, especially at a time when truck crashes continue to climb. Since 2009, truck crashes have gone up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries. To make matters worse, truck vehicle miles decreased by 3 percent in that same time, meaning that the truck crash involvement, truck crash injury, and truck crash fatality rates have all increased over the past six years.

While TSC is excited that autonomous technologies have the potential to prevent and mitigate thousands of crashes resulting from human error, we also want to ensure that the process for testing and developing AV technology in trucks does not jeopardize public safety. As we continue to figure out the details of the regulatory framework associated with AV technology, we urge lawmakers to work towards mandating automatic emergency braking and heavy vehicle speed limiters on all trucks. Both of these technologies serve as building blocks to achieving a fully autonomous truck, and, more importantly, can reduce crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives today, rather than several years from now.

###

Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents that Occurred in 2014 and 2015

Truck Accidents – 2015

Texas truck driver dies in six-vehicle crash on I-81

Tractor-trailer crashes into Tyrone dam and pond

Tractor Trailer Crashes Into Car And Wall On Thruway

4 people die when semi smashes into car in eastern Iowa

Police Identify Two Killed In Saturday Crash On I-95 In Old Lyme

Funeral set for Bartow County missionary killed by tractor-trailer

Driver cited in tractor trailer crash that closed section of I-78

Howe truck driver in critical condition after Monday wreck in Emmett

Two vehicles damaged by semi in downtown accident

UPDATE: Police identify driver killed in Bypass crash

Truck driver flown to hospital after fiery crash

Tractor-trailer truck dumps Poland Spring water on turnpike

Woman killed in Route 30 crash in Reisterstown

Truck driver dies in I-80 crash

Fire, crash causes damage to 3 semi-trucks, closes I-76 between Keenesburg and Wiggins

Wreck involving tractor-trailer kills 1 on I-40

‘Everything was burning,’ says witness of crash that injured 3 on M-14

Semi driver injured after crashing on Outer Loop

Man dies, trucker jailed after multi-vehicle crash on I-75

Names released in Friday motorcycle crash

Highway Patrol: stray tire caused grocery truck crash on I-77

Saratoga county man overdoses at the wheel, revived and arrested

Coffee Blamed For Semi-Truck Accident Near Brush

Victim Identified In Crash That Shutdown I-85 for 13 Hours

Coroner identifies tractor-trailer driver killed in crash

Suspected Drunk Trucker Charged after Feliberto Sepeda Killed in Semi-Truck Accident

Pickup driver walks away from wreck with semi in Alaska

Pedestrians injured when semi cuts corner in NE Portland

Three dead, five injured in 18-wheeler crash on I-35

55-year-old on bike dies after being struck by semi in Westmoreland County

Tractor-trailer hits minivan head-on, kills passenger

One killed, one injured in tractor trailer accident

Firefighters Injured, 2 Arrested in Deadly Crashes in Irving

Tavares man critically injured in St. Lucie County crash

Glenview Man Dies In South Dakota Motorcycle Accident

Driver rescued after his semi-truck rolls off Interstate 5, starts brush fire

Center Grove mother, two young children among five people killed in crash on I-65 in Tippecanoe County, interstate closed

Vehicle collision with semi kills one near Ritzville

Crews On Scene Of Multi-Vehicle Crash Involving Semi In South OKC

Semi loaded with produce crashes on I-15; traffic backup leads to 3-vehicle collision

Three suffer minor injuries in tractor-trailer collides with vehicle, then house

Crash into fire truck shows why Florida’s Move Over law is important

LSP: Metairie man dies in crash on Interstate 12

2 hurt in 18-wheeler accident in north Houston

Tractor-trailer crashes into passenger vehicle on U.S. 58 in Suffolk

Woman’s Car Overturned by Tractor Trailer in Mercer County

Semi driver dies following US-24 crash, fire

[Crash] injures Casey woman

Family remembers tractor-trailer wreck victim

Truck driver likely fell asleep before I-5 crash

Driver dies in Kansas semi accident

Two Die In Tractor-Trailer Crash Near Gravette

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

Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets

UPDATE: Two children among six dead in I-75 crash; driver identified

Amtrak train collides with truck carrying bacon near Wilmington

JBLM soldier, family killed in Texas crash

1 dead, 3 injured in Salado bridge crash

Victims in I-75 [Fedex Double Tractor Trailer] crash identified

5 dead in another crash on interstate near Savannah

5 Nursing Students Killed in Georgia Interstate Crash

Man faces involuntary manslaughter in fatal I-80 accident

Worker Killed Outside Argyle H.S. Was Hit By Semi Driven By His Dad

Background of truck driver involved in deadly crash reveals previous concerns

2-truck crash kills 2 Sunday on Alligator Alley

Left lane of turnpike reopens to eastbound traffic after fatal crash in Portage County

Fiery Tanker Crash, Explosion Shuts Down I-94 Near Detroit-Dearborn Border

Officials: Truck driver fell asleep in fatal Washington bus crash

Second victim dies after Peace River Bridge crash

A week after Metrolink train crashes into truck, engineer dies

Church raising money for crash victims’ father

1 killed in north Phoenix semi crash involving semi, 2nd truck

Woman hit, killed by semi-truck in Otsego

1 dead in truck, car crash on Interstate 287 in Mahwah

Winnsboro woman dies in head-on crash

One Dead, Two Injured After Four Semis Crash on I-49

I-45 Fatality

Woman killed in crash at entrance to I-95 in Yulee

At least 1 dead in 150-car pileup in Michigan

Man Wedged Between Semi Trucks Survives Massive I-84 Pileup Crash

Elgin woman killed in OK panhandle crash

Missouri truck crash kills N.J. man on New Year’s Eve

Truck Accidents – 2014

2014 Was A Banner Year For Food Spills On Highways

FedEx truck overturns on New Jersey highway, spills packages 

Chain reaction I-10 crash in Hancock County kills 4, injures 4

Arizona freeway crash: truck loses control, kills 4

Tired Trucker Tears Baltimore County Family Apart

Double-fatal crash near Huntley

One Killed in Monroe County Crash

I-59 Accident Takes Four Lives

Fiery Crash in Kaufman County Kills Three

3 killed, 13 Hurt in I-57 Crash

Woman Killed Friday in Crash on Indiana 49

Crash Devastates a Kentucky Family

Two killed, Four Injured in Multiple Vehicle Crash

Shadyside man killed in bizarre I-470 Crash

Woman Struck, Killed by Tractor Trailer

Truck Accidents

*A new version of the AP Stylebook was made available on June 1, 2016. One of the notable changes was the guidance the book offers on when to call a collision an “accident.” According to two tweets from AP Stylebook, “when negligence is claimed or proven, [journalists should] avoid accident, which can be read as exonerating the person,” and “instead, use crash, collision or other terms.”

TSC welcomes this effort to change the conversation about crashes, but we are also aware that many people use the word “accident” when looking for more information about a crash, which is why we have left it on this page. We will continue supporting efforts to Drop the “A” Word and push for “crash or collision” to be the default word used by journalists.

Link to Article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/04/04/associated-press-cautions-journalists-that-crashes-arent-always-accidents/

truck accidents.

truck accidents.

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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Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition for the Record – Hearing on: FAST Act Implementation: Improving the Safety of the Nation’s Roads

Hearing on: FAST Act Implementation: Improving the Safety of the Nation’s Roads

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

United States House of Representatives

July 18, 2017

Thank you Members of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit for holding this important hearing on the safety of the nation’s roads. The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of lives lost and injuries sustained in large truck crashes.

Since 2009, the number of truck crashes has increased by 45 percent, and the number of truck crash injuries and fatalities have gone up by 57 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The number of truck vehicle miles traveled, however, has decreased by 3 percent in that same time. Moreover, in 2009, the European Union had a greater number of truck crash fatalities than the United States, but in 2014, the last available year for comparable data, they recorded less truck crash fatalities than the United States. While the European Union continues to utilize lifesaving technologies, the United States continues to remain behind adoption of many of these technologies.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that its mission is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic cost due to road traffic crashes. The agency notes that 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error. In their budget proposal, NHTSA also notes, the development of a new standard for stability control is estimated to prevent a significant number of rollover crashes involving tractor-trailers and motor coaches. In addition, stability control systems provide a technology foundation for forward collision avoidance and mitigation (FCAM) systems that hold the promise for substantial reductions in rear-end crashes involving heavy vehicles. Given the agency’s positive view about the potential safety benefits of electronic stability control, both as a stand-alone safety system as well as a basic building block of highly automated vehicles, we are concerned that it is considering electronic stability control for heavy vehicles as an area for deregulatory actions.

Additionally, speed limiter technology already exists in almost all trucks manufactured since the 1990s, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that mandating that speed limiters be set on large trucks would result in a net benefit. In fact, a recently released study by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that found that speed-related, at-fault truck crashes fell by 73 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology took effect in Ontario.

Unfortunately, the agency continues to delay and neglects to commit to finalizing a rule this year. The Administration’s recently released Unified Agenda revealed that FMCSA and NHTSA designated the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter rule as a long-term action item, meaning that the agencies need a minimum of 12 months to make progress on the rule. This delay directly defies an amendment offered by Senator Johnny Isakson that was included in the FY 17 Senate THUD Appropriations bill, which directed the Secretary to promulgate a final rule within six-months of the bill’s enactment.

This is not the only area that the new Administration has decided to kick the can on regulations that will prevent injuries and save lives. The Unified Agenda also revealed that rulemakings that would strengthen requirements for rear underride guards on trailers and require single unit trucks to be equipped with them were also moved to the long-term action list. At a time when we are seeing major trailer manufacturers go above and beyond the government’s proposed standard for rear underride guards, the government should not be backing away from this lifesaving technology. If anything, the agency tasked with promulgating this rulemaking should be looking for ways to maximize the potential safety benefits by accounting for the new developments in underride protections.

Link: https://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=401738 

 

Truckers Win Fight to Keep Insurance Payouts Low

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written by Paul Feldman, is a staff writer at FairWarning, a nonprofit news organization based in Pasadena, California, that focuses on public health, consumer and environmental issues.

Feds Reject Insurance Hike for Big-Rigs, Pleasing Independent Truckers, Rankling Safety Advocates

By Paul Feldman on July 13, 2017

https://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/TruckingIllustration-800x469.jpgGraham Brown was headed to his job as a computer technician when a drowsy big-rig driver swerved into his path and struck his car, sending it flying off a rural Illinois road and into a field.

Brown was airlifted to a hospital for a six-hour surgery that saved his life. He suffered collapsed lungs, broken arms and legs, neurological damage and kidney failure, his mother, Kate Brown recalls. Hospitalized for 75 days after the May, 2005, accident, Graham Brown, now 40, has endured more than 20 surgeries and still cannot use his left hand or arm.

Yet because the small trucking company had little more than the federal minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, Kate Brown says she and Graham’s father were forced to dip into their retirement funds and take big chunks of time off from work to help care for their son.

Graham Brown eventually received a settlement of about $300,000, she says, after payment of attorney’s fees and other expenses. With continuing medical costs and permanent injuries that could reduce his earnings, he faces an uncertain financial future.

https://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/BrownSonphoto.png

Graham Brown, shown here with his mother, Kate Brown, was severely injured in a crash with a big-rig, and has had more than 20 surgeries. Because the trucking company had little more than the federal minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, Brown faces an uncertain financial future.

The $750,000 minimum has been in place since 1983, but safety advocates who have campaigned to raise it have been stymied up to now. In their latest setback, the Trump administration in June dropped consideration of a higher minimum on grounds that it couldn’t get enough data from insurance and trucking firms to prove that the benefits would outweigh the costs. Efforts to raise the minimum previously stalled under the Obama administration, which also cited problems in collecting enough data.

Tens of thousands hurt

Kate Brown, of Gurnee, Illinois, said she was grateful her son survived, noting that “most people don’t live through crashes like that.” As for the financial stress on the family, Brown said it’s ”the price you have to pay because of the minimum insurance.”

Each year, close to 4,000 people are killed in the U.S. in crashes involving large trucks and tens of thousands more are hurt, some suffering catastrophic injuries that leave them disabled and in need of expensive lifetime care.

Yet for more than three decades, the federal minimum for truck liability insurance has remained stuck at $750,000. That amount, which must cover all victims of a crash, may be a fraction of the expenses for a single badly injured survivor. Simply adjusted for inflation, the minimum would be more than $2.2 million today.

“A million dollars wouldn’t have gotten my kids out of Akron Children’s Hospital,” said Baltimore resident Ed Slattery 61, a former economic analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who quit his job to care full-time for his two sons after they were critically injured in a 2010 big-rig crash on the Ohio Turnpike that killed his wife Susan.

The $750,000 minimum is a sliver of the $9.6 million value placed on a human life by the Department of Transportation when it is considering the costs and benefits of safety regulations.

Except for independent truckers, who say that even a small hike in their insurance premiums could force some of them off the road, few argue that the current minimum makes sense.

Action by private sector

The Trucking Alliance, an industry group that includes such major firms as J.B. Hunt and Knight, urges truckers to maintain coverage “significantly higher than the federal minimum requirement.” Doing so is necessary “to maintain the public’s trust and cover the medical costs associated with truck crash victims,” the organization says.

Even without a change in the government mandate, the private sector has moved the bar slightly on its own. A survey by the American Trucking Associations showed that eight of 10 truckers maintain $1-million of liability insurance to meet requirements imposed by private brokers and shipping companies.

https://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/JoanClaybrookPhoto-e1499198871759.jpg

Consumer advocate Joan Claybrook faulted both the Trump and Obama administrations for failing to raise minimum liability coverage for trucking firms.

In 2013, a bill to raise the minimum to more than $4 million was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., but got no traction.

A year later, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, the branch of the Department of Transportation that regulates interstate trucking, announced it would consider raising the minimum and requested public comment.

But in one of a flurry of deregulatory moves by the Trump administration, the motor carrier safety agency last month said it was withdrawing the proposal. Citing difficulty in getting industry data for a cost-benefit study, the agency said it lacked enough “information to support moving forward … at this time.”

Lack of data to justify an increase

Consumer advocate Joan Claybrook, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called such reasoning ”ridiculous” and also condemned the Obama Administration’s failure to take action when it had the chance. She said that during Obama’s second term, officials of the motor carrier safety agency dragged their feet, also citing lack of enough data to justify an increase.

In an interview with FairWarning, Randi Hutchinson, chief counsel for the agency, said it cannot issue a regulation without ample cost-benefit evidence. If it did so, a court “would most likely find the regulation was arbitrary and capricious.”

Safety advocates said they hope the issue isn’t dead, and that they may again seek help from Congress.

“This remains a top priority for the congressman,” said Cartwright’s legislative director Jeremy Marcus. “Whether a legislative solution or working with the FMCSA, he’s still hoping to get these insurance rates raised to an appropriate level.”

Jackie Novak, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, who lost her only son, Charles, 22, in a crash with a tractor trailer in 2010, says she has little hope of action by the Trump administration.

The crash that took her son’s life also killed four others and injured more than a dozen. A $1 million liability policy was ultimately divided between survivors and next of kin. The family of Charles Novak, who had a two-year old son, got just over $100,000, Jackie Novak said.

‘Has your car insurance gone up?’

“Not only is he never going to know his father, but … someone has to pay to raise him.,” she said. “So guess what? Social Security is now taking up the task to raise my grandson.”

“I ask this question of every lawmaker that I’ve spoken to in Washington,” Novak told FairWarning. ” ‘Has your car insurance gone up in the last 34 years?’ Did anyone call to ask:  ‘Are we going to put you out of business if we raise the insurance?’ No, they just do it.

https://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NovakPhoto-e1499197454445.jpg

Charles Novak, a 22-year-old father, was killed along with four others in a crash with a tractor-trailer in 2010.

“So this argument that raising the minimum insurance would be putting small operators out of business doesn’t wash with me. … They permanently put my son out of business, so if you can’t afford to be in that business, then be in a different business.”

The most vociferous opposition to an increase has come from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which claims 158,000 members and has spent more than $2.3 million lobbying in Washington since the start of 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

After federal officials abandoned the effort, the group declared success in “getting a potentially devastating proposed regulation withdrawn.”

In considering an upgrade, the motor carrier agency reviewed several analyses showing that claims in severe accidents far exceed the liability minimum. The Trucking Alliance, for example, reported that more than 40 percent of injury claims against its members exceeded $750,000.

The American Trucking Associations, on the other hand, submitted a study of 85,000 crashes that found the average loss per crash was $11,229.

But safety advocates say insurance minimums aren’t meant to cover average accidents, but truly serious ones.

‘Salt on a wound’

“It’s bad enough when a family experiences a tragedy in losing someone or having loved ones severely injured,” said John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, an advocacy group. “It’s like salt on a wound when then you find out the company that caused this damage cannot compensate the family whether it be for medical bills, lost income or whatever.

“What happens, sadly, is these people suffer again because now they’re put in a situation where they have to rely on taxpayers, whether it be through Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, whatever it is,” Lannen added in an interview.

In the Ohio crash that killed Ed Slattery’s wife, the fact that the truck was owned by Estes Express Lines, a big firm with deep pockets, has made all the difference in his ability to provide lifetime care for his wheelchair-bound, brain-injured son Mathew, now 19, and a second son, Peter, who suffered less debilitating injuries.

Estes agreed to a settlement of more than $40-million, aimed at providing round-the-clock aid to Matthew in a new and specially equipped house.

“I’m the poster child of how it should go, I’m not the poster child for the norm,” said Ed Slattery, who has started a foundation to assist the families of other brain-injured people. “The luck of the draw is I got hit by a big company  …. that was well insured.”

Even so, he said, Matthew’s life will never be close to normal.

“He’s going to need 24/7 supervision for the rest of his life,” Slattery said. “He’s not going to college with his classmates — they’re all freshmen. They’re dating. He’s not. They’re driving. He’s not. It breaks your heart every day.”

Link: https://www.fairwarning.org/2017/07/trump-administration-move-big-rig-insurance-rankles-safety-advocates/

This story
also published by:

NBCNews.com
IowaWatch
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News

 

 

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF DRAFT HOUSE FY 18 THUD APPROPRIATIONS BILL

ARLINGTON, VA (July 11, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition is vehemently opposed to a provision included in the recently released draft House Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill that would pre-empt certain state laws governing truckers’ meal and rest breaks, effectively barring states from applying rules that exceed federal standards for truck driver pay and rest. The language would essentially dock the pay of truck drivers by attacking state laws that protect their pay during bathroom or lunch breaks, or when performing necessary activities like loading or unloading a truck.

As it is written, this provision has potentially far-reaching consequences that would not only strip a state of its ability to impose safety rules that go beyond federal standards, but would also prevent that state from permitting a pay structure other than mileage pay. Given that states can set their own speed limits, which relate to safety, as well as their own minimum wage laws, which relate to how employees are paid, this provision is not just out of place in a Federal appropriations bill, it is out of place as part of a Federal law that respects state rights and the 10th amendment.

To make matters even worse, the same people who claim this language will “get rid of patchwork of state laws,” are using the same bill to allow North Dakota to raise the truck weight limit to 129,000-lbs on it Interstate roads, even though the Federal weight limit for trucks is 80,000-lbs. The authors of this bill cannot reconcile the federalist nature of preventing a state from going above and beyond a federal minimum relating to meal and rest breaks, and then claim that one should be allowed to permit heavier trucks on its Interstate roads, which are paid for with federal tax dollars. It is evident that the lawmakers who wrote this legislation are more concerned with satisfying select interest groups. Opposing meal and rest breaks for truck drivers as well as supporting heavier trucks is neither pro-safety nor pro-truck driver.  

Enacting this provision would also invalidate a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned a lower court’s decision and stated that motor carriers are not exempt from California state law. The California law in question requires all workers to be compensated for all hours worked at the agreed upon minimum rate. It also mandates employers to give employees a 30-minute meal period within the first five hours of work, a second 30-minute meal period when their workday exceeds ten hours, and a 10-minute rest period every four hours. As a result of the Circuit Court’s decision to uphold this California law, many truck drivers have joined together to file class action lawsuits for back pay, with their intent being to require their employers to create an environment that ensures drivers can take their breaks without feeling discouraged or fearing retaliation.

Clearly, there is a need for these truck drivers to take action to change their work environment and upend the culture of coercion. USA TODAY recently published an in-depth investigative report about the maltreatment of port truck drivers in California, who work grueling schedules and are paid incredibly low wages. The report details how “trucking companies force drivers to work against their will – up to 20 hours a day – by threatening to take their trucks and keep the money they paid toward buying them,” and how “bosses create a culture of fear by firing drivers, suspending them without pay or reassigning them the lowest-paying routes.” Despite these revelations, this provision to take away meal and rest breaks indicates that its authors, as well as those who support its inclusion in this appropriations bill, care more about special interests than they do about truck drivers or truck safety.

Link to USA TODAY Article: https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/news/rigged-retail-giants-enable-trucker-exploitation/  

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Group Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee to Oppose Truck Size and Weight Increases

June 12, 2017

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman  

The Honorable David Price, Ranking Member Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies  Committee on Appropriations    

U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515      

Dear Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price:

As the Subcommittee prepares for Thursday’s hearing to review the FY 2018 budget request for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), our broad and diverse coalition urges you to reject any provisions that would increase federal truck size and weight limits including the creation of any “pilot programs” or special interest exemptions to evade current limits. 

Current trends show that truck crashes are too frequent and too often are fatal.  In 2015, 4,067 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks.  According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), this is an increase of more than 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.  Furthermore, this is the highest fatality number, and the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000, since 2008.  Truck crash injuries are also rising significantly.  In 2015, 116,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks.  This is the highest number of injuries since 2004, and there has been a 57 percent increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes since 2009. The annual number of deaths and injuries is completely unacceptable and would not be tolerated in any other mode of transportation.

In addition to this massive death and injury toll, our nation’s roads continue to receive a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.  The report revealed that one of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and that there is a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. Additionally, one in eleven of the nation’s 615,000 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory were structurally deficient.  

Any proposals that would allow heavier and longer trucks on our nation’s roads and bridges will further endanger the safety of motorists, and inflict even more damage and destruction to our infrastructure and should be rejected. 

In fact, attempts to increase truck size and weight limits were defeated during the last Congressional session by both the Senate and the House in strong bipartisan votes.  In addition to documented safety and infrastructure problems, the American public consistently and overwhelmingly rejects bigger and heavier trucks in countless opinion polls.   

Furthermore, Congress directed the U.S. DOT to conduct a Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study in the 2012 MAP-21 law (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Pub. L. 112-141).  In April of last year, U.S. DOT transmitted the completed study to Congress and recommended that no changes be made to federal truck size and weight laws. 

Trucks heavier than 80,000 pounds have a greater number of brake violations, which are a major reason for out-of-service violations. Alarmingly, trucks with out-of-service violations are 362 percent more likely to be involved in a crash, according to a North Carolina study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Tractor-trailers moving at 60 mph are required to stop in 310 feet – the length of a football field – once the brakes are applied.  Actual stopping distances are often much longer due to driver response time before braking and the common problem that truck brakes are often not in top working condition.  In 2016, violations related to tires and/or brakes accounted for five of the top ten most common vehicle out-of-service violations.  Moreover, increasing the weight of a heavy truck by only 10 percent increases bridge damage by 33 percent.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that the investment backlog for bridges, to address all cost-beneficial bridge needs, is $123.1 billion.  The U.S. would need to increase annual funding for bridges by 20 percent over current spending levels to eliminate the bridge backlog by 2032.

The study also found that introducing double 33 foot trailer trucks, known as “Double 33s,” would be projected to result in 2,478 bridges requiring strengthening or replacement at an estimated one-time cost of $1.1 billion. It is important to note that this figure does not account for the additional, subsequent maintenance costs which will result from longer, heavier trucks.  Moreover, double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. They also require more stopping distance, take more time to pass, have bigger blind spots, cross into adjacent lanes and swing into opposing lanes on curves and when making right angle turns. Simply put, bigger trucks mean bigger safety problems. 

We strongly oppose any so-called “pilot program” to allow heavier trucks in a select number of states because it opens the flood gates to widespread disregard for well-researched and wellsupported national policies.  The piecemeal approach also makes enforcement and compliance more difficult, burdens states with reasonable truck weights to succumb to pressure for higher weights, and creates deadly and costly consequences for highway safety and infrastructure. 

Despite misleading claims to the contrary, research and experience shows that allowing bigger, heavier trucks will not result in fewer trucks. Since 1982, when Congress last increased the gross vehicle weight limit, truck registrations have increased 95 percent. The U.S. DOT study also addressed this assertion and found that any potential mileage efficiencies from use of heavier trucks would be offset in just one year. 

Annual truck crash fatalities are equivalent to a major airplane crash every other week of the year.  Any change overturning current truck size and weight laws will further strain and erode our crumbling infrastructure, present dire safety risks and disrupt efficient intermodal freight transportation.  It is critical that any proposals which would increase the size or weight of trucks be rejected, including pilot programs and measures to preempt state limits.  Thank you for your consideration of our position.

Letter to House THUD Appropriations Committee 

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF NAS REPORT ON U.S. DOT’S CSA CARRIER RATING SYSTEM

The National Academy of Sciences released a report, Improving Motor Carrier Safety Measurement, which confirmed much of what the Truck Safety Coalition has been saying about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) carrier rating system and truck safety in general:

  1. The CSA’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) is “conceptually sound,” and
  2. That well-compensated drivers and drivers who are not paid per miles travelled, have fewer crashes.

Our goal is to reduce truck crashes, prevent injuries, and save lives, which is why we have always supported continuous improvement to make the rating system even more effective in determining which motor carriers are safe and which motor carriers pose a risk to public safety. By embracing a more data-driven method of scoring the safety of motor carriers, the agency can build on the success of CSA and continue to enhance it. Additionally, transitioning to a more statistically principled approach will make the program more transparent and easier to understand, further justifying why both the data as well as the rankings should be public.

The report also underscores a need for improved data collection by and collaboration between motor carriers, states, and the FMCSA. The agency should enhance data collection regarding vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by trucks, and can do so by working with relevant tax agencies given that all motor carriers report their VMT for tax purposes. The FMCSA can also improve data collection regarding crashes by continuing their efforts to standardize post-accident reports that vary state-by-state, an effort that I have worked on as a member of the FMCSA’s Post-Accident Report Advisory Committee.

While the report highlights opportunities for the FMCSA to improve CSA’s SMS, members of the industry must recognize their own responsibilities and role in improving this safety rating system. Collecting data on “carrier characteristics,” including driver turnover rates, types of cargo hauled, and the method and level of driver compensation, will allow the agency to establish a fuller and fairer determination of safety. This requires motor carriers to share even more data, not attempt to hide it.

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STATEMENT OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON WITHDRAWAL OF ADVANCE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING TO INCREASE MINIMUM FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR MOTOR CARRIERS

STATEMENT OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON WITHDRAWAL OF ADVANCE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING TO INCREASE MINIMUM FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR MOTOR CARRIERS

ARLINGTON, VA (June 2, 2017) – On behalf of families of truck crash victims and survivors, the Truck Safety Coalition is extremely disappointed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA, agency) withdrawal of a long overdue Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to increase the minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers, which has not been raised since it was set 37 years ago. 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.

The fact of the 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 are forced to 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 is not unique to 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 U.S. Department of Transportation (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 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and President Trump should be embarrassed that they withdrew a commonsense rule that will improve safety on our roads and ensure families are adequately compensated for the pain and suffering they endure. This issue now falls to Secretary Elaine Chao, who is vested with the authority to raise this figure. These families do not need well wishes and condolences from policy-makers—they need change. The Secretary should take immediate action to increase the minimum insurance requirement and to index it to inflation. This way, the amount will be increased periodically and apolitically. 

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Entry Level Driver Training

Requiring Comprehensive Training for All Entry-Level Commercial Driver License Applicants Is Long Overdue

One of the first curricula on entry level driver training (ELDT) for commercial motor vehicle drivers was developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in the mid-1980s. Yet it was not until 1993, that the agency published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM). Following this initiation of the rulemaking process, regulatory action stalled again until 2002, when the agency that is now responsible for this regulation – the FMCSA – was sued by safety advocates.

In response to the lawsuit, the agency produced an inadequate final rule in 2004. The training requirement was 10-hours of classroom instruction on four topics; there was no BTW training required. And once again, safety advocates sued the agency – this time for producing a capricious rule. The court agreed with plaintiffs and remanded the FMCSA to produce an ELDT final rule that included behind-the-wheel training. The agency finally published a Notice of Propose Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2007, however, the FMCSA once again failed to promulgate a final rule.

ELDTAC Brought Together Parties with Different Interests and Arrived at a Consensus

The ELDTAC was formed to negotiate a proposed rule to establish entry level driver training requirements. The committee consisted of 26 members, all of whom have varying interests in and ideas about entry level driver training, to work together and with the agency to craft the rulemaking. Members included family members of truck crash victims, safety advocacy groups, motor carriers, driver organizations, state licensing agencies, training schools, labor unions, state enforcement agencies, and several other parties. In the end, 24 members of the ELDTAC agreed that there should be a required amount of time for BTW training; the two dissenting members represented industry interests.

The Curricula Requires Knowledge of Skills and Minimum Hours that Will Ensure Truck Drivers Are Adequately Trained

The negotiated rulemaking will outline the requisite skills that candidates applying for a Class A or B CDL should have in order to be certified as a professional driver that is capable of operating his or her vehicle. The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased that both curricula require that candidates learn more than 19 different topics while on the range and/or road. We also agree with the agency’s assessment that “…a hybrid approach combining minimum BTW hours requirement with detailed curriculum requirements is the best way to ensure that drivers will be adequately trained in the safe operation of Class A and Class B CMVs.”9  

The minimum hours requirement for BTW will help the agency make sure that CDL applicants have sufficient time to learn the wide array of topics in the proposed curriculum. This commonsense move will modernize the trucking industry to be more in-line with other licensed professions that use hours-based entry-level training or continuing education to promote best practices and reduce bad actors. In addition, requiring that candidates receive a minimum amount of BTW training is not something new to the industry. Leading CDL training schools, certain states and the largest trade association, The Commercial Vehicle Training Association, all mandate a minimum number of BTW hours.  

Standardized Training Will Improve Safety Outcomes

Given that some training schools only cover some topics, while not requiring BTW, and other schools require BTW training, while not covering as many safety issues as other training schools, setting a standard curriculum will reduce truck crashes because the drivers will be better trained to operate a truck. TSC is pleased that all A and B Class CDL applicants will need to study fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions to name a few of the topics, and then demonstrate how knowledge of that topic translates to safe operations.

Moreover, harmonizing various driver training facilities and establishing a database of training providers will also help the FMCSA enforce this rule. The NPRM requires the agency to set up a registry of the facilities that meet the proposed qualifications. This will help the FMCSA identify training schools that are more concerned with money than with graduating safe driver by allowing them to remove CDL mills responsible for churning out inadequately trained truck drivers who cause injurious and fatal crashes.

Continued Delays and Removal of Minimum Hours of BTW Training 

The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers, many of whom are families of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, are extremely disappointed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA, agency) final rule requiring entry-level driver training for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

After languishing for 25 years after it was mandated by an Act of Congress, we were hopeful that the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), which brought together law enforcement, safety advocates, and members of the industry, would be able to produce a negotiated rulemaking that included a minimum number of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours. After meeting several times throughout the past year, the ELDTAC negotiated a proposed rule that included both a theoretical curriculum as well as a minimum number (30 hours) of BTW training hours. Unfortunately, the years of waiting and the participation of the ELDTAC members has been for naught. The final rule will not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it.

Without a minimum BTW training hours requirement, the agency will not be able to ensure that CDL applicants have adequate time to learn the wide range of topics in the proposed curriculum. 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 in performing required range and public road maneuvers is a more flexible, and thus less burdensome option than required minimum hours because it recognizes that driver-trainees will complete BTW training at a pace that reflects their varying levels of individual ability.” The driver-trainees will not complete the BTW training at their own pace, they will complete it at the pace of the training school they attend or the trucking company that runs it, which is how the current, safety-deficient system operates.

The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training for CMV drivers has been a colossal waste of time. This final rule is both insufficient in terms of advancing safety and an insult to the memories of those killed in crashes caused by inexperience and untrained truck drivers. In particular, our thoughts are with Ron Wood, who served on the ELDTAC and at each meeting revisited his grief associated with losing his mother, sister, and three nephews in a terribly tragic truck crash in Texas in 2004.  

 

 

 

Minimum Insurance Levels for Motor Carriers

The Minimum Level of Insurance Required for Large Trucks was Set in 1980 

The Required Amount of $750,000 Has Never Been Increased

Background

In 1980, as Congress deregulated the trucking industry, there was great concern regarding the imminent increase in the number of trucking companies that was sure to follow the removal of the barriers to entry into the industry. Congress believed it would be difficult for the federal regulators, alone, to provide effective oversight for safe operations for such a large number of companies. Congress intended the Secretary of Transportation to set insurance minimums at a level significant enough to provide an appropriate means of compensation to truck crash victims if crashes occurred and also to cause the insurance companies to provide effective, on site underwriting so that the insurance market would provide incentives for safe operations of motor carriers.

Congress set the absolute minimum level of insurance to be applied to motor carriers of property and of hazardous materials at $750,000 and $5,000,000, respectively, and gave the Secretary of Transportation authority to increase such amounts to appropriate levels that would achieve the intended purpose.  Unfortunately, the minimum amounts set by Congress as the absolute floor were too low to provide the intended underwriting supervision and too low to provide protection for the public. Nonetheless, in spite of an exponential growth of the number of authorized motor carriers (approximately 27,000 prior to deregulation compared to more than 500,000 in existence today), the Secretary has never increased the bare minimums set by Congress, and the low original minimum amounts, over the past 35 years, have provided less and less of an incentive to operate safely and have become almost insignificant when compared to the damages caused by the huge trucks now allowed on public highways.  Indeed, many “minimum” policies are already written at the $1,000,000 level because the $750,000 amount is so absurdly low.

Crash Costs

When the above numbers were set as part of the deregulation process, the amounts were considered to be the absolute minimums necessary for protection of the public. Since then, not only have all of the expenses associated with truck crashes increased dramatically, the sheer disparity in size between cars and trucks has increased resulting in more severe crashes. In that same time, trailers were allowed to expand first to 48’ in length, and then to 53’. Truck weight increases, both across the board and through exemptions, have also occurred. Combined with the increase in crash expenses and damages, such as lost income and medical expenses, the lack of any adjustment since 1980 has caused a greater disparity between the original amount and current costs.

The common approach by an insurance company for a trucking company with only the required minimums in liability coverage, when the trucking company causes a catastrophe with damages that far exceed the insurance, is to “interplead” the insurance limits. This is done by the insurance company suing all of the people injured and the families of those killed in one suit, with the insurance company offering to pay the ridiculously low limits of the policy into court and to require those injured and those who have lost loved ones to fight (or “interplead”) among themselves as to who should get what. The number of interpleader actions has risen dramatically as the required minimum insurance levels have fallen significantly short of the damages actually caused by truck crashes.

The effect of the lack of adequate insurance is that the damages caused by certain segments of the industry are not borne by those causing them. The damage caused by the underinsured are spread out among the innocent motorists who are killed and injured, who frequently have no effective recourse against the companies that caused their losses.

A common type of truck crash involves a fatigued truck driver who crashes into traffic that has stopped on the highway due to congestion, a prior crash or a construction zone. These crashes typically involve multiple vehicles, multiple deaths, and multiple injuries. The total damages caused in such cases can easily exceed $20,000,000, but an insurance company with minimum limits will simply sue everyone involved in an interpleader action and the unprotected crash victims are left to do the best with what they have to try to put their lives back together. Frequently, the injured and disabled end up relying on Medicaid, Social Security or other government programs because smaller trucking companies do not have to pay for the cost of the damages they cause. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for the companies that don’t carry enough insurance to cover the damages they cause, while adequately insured companies bear such expenses as part of their business.

Unfair Competition

The low limits allowed by law are frequently carried by trucking companies that have minimal owned assets; companies that lease their terminals and equipment or otherwise leverage their operations. Even if an injured person obtains a legal judgment in excess of the low insurance limits, the companies have simply gone out of business and the owners have started up a new business under another name. This dangerous practice, referred to as reincarnating or chameleon carriers, was described in a July 2009 report by the GAO.

Larger, nationwide companies, which are adequately capitalized on the other hand, have much higher limits. It is common for the larger carriers to carry multiple layers of coverage, sometimes with a significant self-insured retention, with totals exceeding $30,000,000. These companies carry adequate amounts because they have “something to lose” and they know too well the significant damages that can be caused when a commercial truck hits a passenger vehicle or vehicles.

The larger companies have significant incentive to make their operations as safe as possible rather than simply gamble against the risk of a catastrophic crash. As a result, they have higher insurance overhead costs to protect against potential losses, yet they have to compete with companies that have nothing to lose (and others willing to put the public at risk) that carry the minimum basic coverage. The companies with “nothing to lose” are effectively subsidized by the victimized motoring public and government programs that absorb the uninsured losses. The low limits, then, create exactly the opposite effect that minimum insurance levels were intended to provide. Rather than increasing overall safety within the industry by creating an economic incentive to operate safely, the low levels create a more dangerous situation through unfair competition by allowing the losses of the most irresponsible companies to be subsidized by the public while responsible companies pay the full amount of the damages they cause.

Minimums That Should be Required

The industry should have to absorb the losses it causes. Crashes involving multiple deaths and injuries, along with any property/infrastructure damage, with total combined damages far exceeding the current minimums happen every week. In order for the minimums to serve the purpose for which they were intended, the limits need to be set sufficiently high to give the insurance companies a reason to set realistic underwriting standards that would reward safe companies and identify unsafe operations. The limits should also reflect the real devastation and damages that are caused when an 80,000 pound truck slams into traffic stopped or slowed in a construction zone. In order to have these effects, property-carrying motor carriers should be required to carry at least $10,000,000 per occurrence. If inflation alone were to be addressed the amount would need to be $2.2 million.

FMCSA Report on Minimum Financial Responsibility

In April 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a report on its review of minimum financial responsibility that found current levels to be inadequate. It found that costs for severe and critical injury crashes can easily exceed $1 million.  The study only identified a small number of crashes that exceeded minimum insurance levels due to the lack of available settlement data. Insurance settlements for amounts that exceed the minimum levels often contain a nondisclosure agreement, and this information is not publicly available. In summary, the report noted that current limits do not adequately cover catastrophic crashes and acknowledged that medical care inflation would increase levels to at least $3.2 million.

Findings from Other Reports on Minimum Financial Responsibility

Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) – This report found that the upper range for liability awards involving death or catastrophic injury is $9–10 million, and recommended that DOT set limits per crash of at least $10 million.

Trucking Alliance Review of Crash Settlements – Member companies of the Trucking Alliance voluntarily tracked 8,692 accident settlements between 2005 and 2011. According to the Trucking Alliance, 42 percent of the injury claims could have had no avenue for offsetting all medical costs.

Conclusion

Congress’ concern of an explosion in the number of motor carriers and the consequential inability of regulation and enforcement to keep our highways safe has become a reality. The intended protective mechanism of federally-required minimum levels of insurance, however, has never adequately performed its intended function.  The amount was never set at a sufficiently high level to require insurance companies to seriously underwrite motor carriers and require safe operations before agreeing to insure them and, over time, the minimum amount has become totally inadequate. Death and catastrophic injuries have become accepted as part of the cost of doing business, with most of that cost being shifted to non-industry members of the motoring public and to the American taxpayers. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority and the responsibility to ensure the Congressional intent of the required financial responsibility is achieved.  The Secretary should exercise her authority in this regard and set the minimums at responsible levels that will encourage safe underwriting and safe operations as was intended by Congress.

Summary

Minimum levels of insurance for trucks have not been increased in over 35 years and are woefully insufficient.

Consequently, a large portion of the damages and losses caused by motor carriers at or near the minimum is imposed upon the American motoring public.

The underinsured segments of the industry are effectively subsidized by American taxpayers through unreimbursed social welfare programs including Medicaid and Social Security.

If all of the industry were required to absorb more of the losses they cause, significant changes in the industry would occur, resulting in safer highways for all.

 

STATEMENT OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF IIHS SIDE UNDERRIDE CRASH TEST RESULTS

ARLINGTON, VA (May 10, 2017) – The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.

The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent. In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.

In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrL7AUMT4To[/embedyt]

With more than 2,000 passenger vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes in which the passenger vehicle strikes side of the tractor-trailer between 2009 and 2015, there is a clear need to address this fatal problem. It should also be noted that the aforementioned fatality figure greatly underestimates the true extent of people killed in side underride crashes as it does not include crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians, multi-vehicle crashes, and any crash that happened in a jurisdiction that does not record whether underride occurred.

At a time when truck crash injuries and deaths continue to climb, up 57 percent and 20 percent respectively between 2009 and 2015, the industry and regulators should share our sense of urgency to reverse these trends. We need more innovation, action, and collaboration.

When we do work together, like at the first ever Truck Underride Roundtable, we can make real advances in truck safety. In fact, that meeting of industry leaders, government officials, and safety advocates helped lead to the creation of this side underride guard that successfully prevented a side underride crash at 35 mph.

This side underride guard would have made a big difference in many of our lives, and we are proud that our advocacy will help prevent others from sustaining a major injury or losing a loved one in a side underride crash. We call on our Members of Congress and federal regulators to ensure that this technology is fully adopted by the trucking industry by requiring all trailers to be equipped with side underride guards.

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Harlingen woman [Debra Cruz] tries to make difference for truck safety

By LISA SEISER Editor | Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 8:56 pm

HARLINGEN — Nine years ago, her life changed. An accident with an 18-wheeler while on her way home left Debra Cruz permanently disabled.

At that time, nobody thought she would now be telling her story to politicians and their staffs on Capitol Hill as part of the “Sorrow to Strength” event held by the Trucking Safety Coalition.

Cruz recently returned after several days in Washington D.C. where she had a one-on-one discussion with Congressman Filemon Vela and was able to meet with the staff of Sen. John Cornyn and Sen. Ted Cruz.

“Their jaws just dropped when I told them my story,” Cruz said.

She talked about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use and proper testing and licensing.

Debra said the people she met with were very interested in her story.

Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition, said Vela was engaged during the 20-minute discussion with Debra.

“You could see it in his eyes,” Debra said about Vela as she explained what happened to her.

Adler said the discussions can result in new laws and efforts to improve safety.

“He was very interested in submitting something,” Debra said about a possible bill.

Adler said Vela appeared to be interested in backing and supporting any bills coming forward that would improve truck safety.

“To hear from one of his constituents about their story is what will motivate him to do something,” Adler said. “He was moved by Debra’s experience.”

Debra was among about 60 to 70 families from about 20 different states who attended the event aimed at making lawmakers aware of changes that could be made to the industry to make it safer.

Many of those who attended were family members of those killed in truck accidents.

Debra also was able to see and briefly talk with Ted Cruz for a few minutes, even grab a picture with him.

Adler said she was disappointed Cruz was not in their meeting, but as they were leaving, he happened to be coming around the corner.

Debra and Cruz were able to speak for a few minutes about her story and then take a picture together.

Overall, while she wasn’t able to speak to all the lawmakers in person, Debra said the visit went well.

It was her second time in Washington. The Truck Safety Coalition paid for her trip and organized the meetings.

“It went really well,” she said.

Sorrow to Strength 2017 Press Page

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Brownsville Herald: Crash survivor to speak with U.S. leaders

HARLINGEN — Debra Cruz spends most of her life in her small Harlingen home off Roosevelt Avenue.

She wears sunglasses in her living room to protect her deteriorating eyes and has short-term memory loss.

She takes several prescription medications every day.

She can’t go through metal detectors and keeps her hair cut very short, sometimes short enough to show the scars on the back of her head.

It didn’t used to be that way.

Nine years ago, her life changed.

An accident with an 18-wheeler on her way home left her permanently disabled. But it hasn’t taken away her will. It’s just changed her hopes.

Now, a good portion of her life revolves around doing all she can to make people aware of the devastation accidents can do and to reduce the numbers of these accidents.

“I am grateful and thankful,” Debra said about being alive. “I believe I was put here and survived for a reason.”

One of those reasons may be coming up later this week.

She will be heading to Washington, D.C., Friday to make her plea, again. It’s the second time in three years she has attended what is called “Sorrow to Strength,” a several day event held by the Truck Safety Coalition.

The purpose is to bring awareness to truck safety.

Debra believes she has and can continue to make a difference.

“I look up to Debra,” said Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition. “I think she is a wonderful representative.”

Adler said Debra, whose trip will be paid for by the Truck Safety Coalition, will be meeting with Congressman Filemon Vela and plans are in the works for her to meet with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn during her visit for Sorrow for Strength. There will be a couple days of workshops and then Debra will go to The Hill to talk with the leaders.

Among the items Debra will speak about include her accident and the situations revolving around it.

“It is always best to get people to tell their story and share it with the lawmakers and the public about what happened to them,” Adler said.

She also will talk about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use as well as proper testing and licensing.

Debra said she was told by her attorneys the driver of the truck that hit her had been in and out of rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse, including crystal meth.

“I tell them all this so they know these trucking companies must do better background checks,” Debra said.

Adler said if this was happening in another transportation industry, people would be paying more attention.

“These are not just statistics,” he said about the numbers of deaths and injuries annually in truck accidents. “These are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons.”

An emotional Debra said if she can help make sure this doesn’t happen to one family, her efforts will be worth it and her reason for survival will be clear.

“Debra is passionate about this and really exemplifies the motto for Sorrow for Strength,” Adler said. “She didn’t have to do this, she could have just said, it happened to me and that is it. But, instead, she wants to do what she can so this doesn’t happen to other people. She wants to help others.”

“I look at the way I was before and after — what life was like before,” Debra said. “It gets me a little depressed, but I am still here.”

There are many people in semi-tractor trailer accidents that are no longer here. She said the people she talks to are often amazed she is alive to tell about her ordeal.

She believes there’s a reason for that.

“I still am here and have to talk about it — that’s very important to me,” she said. “If this can help someone else, all that, all the things I have gone through will be worth it. This will all have been worth it if I can make a difference.”

Link: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_0050b93e-2a22-11e7-b9fe-13af3e67259e.html

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:15 pm | By LISA SEISER Staff Writer Brownsville Herald

Sorrow to Strength 2017

April 29 – May 3, 2017

Washington, DC

TSC Sorrow to Strength 2017 – Welcome

TSC Sorrow to Strength 2017 – About Sorrow to Strength

TSC Sorrow to Strength 2017 – Transportation

TSC Sorrow to Strength – Agenda

TSC Sorrow to Strength 2017 – Major Policy Initiatives

Eno Transportation Weekly Guest Op-Ed: Don’t Let Safety Take a Back Seat to Special Interests

Deadly truck crashes happen every day on our roads and highways across the nation.

Unfortunately, this major public health and safety problem is worsening.

Since 2009, the number of truck crashes has shot up by 45 percent — resulting in a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries and a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities. In 2015 alone, 4,067 people were killed in large truck crashes and 116,000 more were injured.

Congress would not tolerate this death and injury toll if it were occurring in any other mode of transportation. Our nation’s leaders certainly should not be considering any weakening of current truck safety protections to accommodate a few select industry members calling for even longer, heavier trucks.

One particularly divisive issue is a major national policy change that would increase truck lengths by at least ten feet. A handful of large trucking companies and shippers are advocating for a configuration commonly called “Double 33s” – which are two 33-foot trailers towed in tandem. Though being billed by proponents as a “small tweak,” this would amount to trucks on the highways potentially topping 90 feet long, which is equivalent to the length of an eight-story office building on wheels. These trucks At a hearing this week before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, the President and CEO of FedEx Freight Corporation testified in support of Double 33s. The written testimony argued that this increase in truck size would result in fewer trucks on the road.

However, nothing could be further from the truth.

In the history of our country, every past size and weight increase has resulted in more trucks on our roads. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (DOT Study), any reduction in truck vehicle miles traveled would be wiped out within one year by increases and shifts in freight transportation. This change to national surface transportation policy would result in a major disruption in multi-modalism and diversion of freight from railroads that are often safer and more environmentally friendly.

The DOT Study’s technical reports also showed that a Double 33 is less safe to operate than the current configuration of Double 28s. These longer trucks require an additional 22 feet to stop, which will make collisions resulting from the truck striking another vehicle in the rear more likely and potentially more devastating.

Research also shows that double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. Longer trucks take more time to pass, cross into adjacent lanes, interfere with traffic as well as swing into opposing lanes on curves and when making right-angle turns. These serious safety problems mean big trouble for those travelling alongside these huge trucks.

Supporters of Double 33s consistently cite dubious science, for which they footed the bill, which misstates and misrepresents the benefits of these longer configurations. False claims of Double 33s increasing safety and productivity are nothing more than a play for competitive advantage over the rest of the industry. Simply put, supporters of Double 33s are placing profits over people.

Consequently, there is a growing coalition of diverse voices opposed to increasing truck length. Families of truck crash victims and survivors, public health and safety organizations, truck drivers, law enforcement officials, first responders, short line and regional railroads, railway suppliers and contractors, and rail labor are united in staunch opposition to Double 33s.

Truck drivers and their representatives can speak firsthand to the difficulties of operating these massive rigs. Considering that the Department of Labor consistently ranks driving a truck as one of the ten most dangerous jobs in America, further imperiling their safety should be a non-starter. And, the public has spoken loud and clear in poll after poll that they oppose bigger trucks.

The aggressive push to mandate all states to allow longer, less safe trucks will impose significant hardship on the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

Additionally, states have expressed serious concerns about being forced to accept Double 33s. Just last month, the American Society of Civil Engineers released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, which found that 20 percent of the nation’s highways had poor pavement conditions. Moreover, one in 11 of the nation’s bridges were structurally deficient.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that $142 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions and performance. The aforementioned DOT Study recognized the adverse effects that Double 33s would have on our bridges, including a one-time cost of $1.1 billion to strengthen and replace more than 2,000 bridges.

This misguided policy proposal is nothing more than a corporate handout for a small segment of the trucking industry. It will endanger motorists and truck drivers, inflict more damage on our suffering infrastructure, preempt state laws throughout the nation, and it does nothing to improve freight efficiency. Lawmakers should be considering commonsense proposals to advance safety, not prioritizing the interests of a select few pushing Double 33s at the expense of public safety.

Link: https://www.enotrans.org/article/guest-op-ed-dont-let-safety-take-back-seat-special-interests/

Executive Director | Truck Safety Coalition
Public Affairs Manager | Truck Safety Coalition

Statement of Joan Claybrook, Lisa Shrum and Larry Liberatore in Response to Today’s Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Hearing on “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure” 

Statement of Joan Claybrook, Lisa Shrum and Larry Liberatore in Response to Today’s Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Hearing on “Keeping Goods Moving: Continuing to Enhance Multimodal Freight Policy and Infrastructure” 

April 4, 2017 

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH):

“Truck crash deaths are at their highest level since 2008. In 2015, 4,067 people were needlessly killed in truck crashes – the equivalent of a major airplane crash every other week of the year.  Congress would never tolerate over 4,000 deaths in airplane crashes or consider weakening safety rules.  So, too, should they not accept this outrageous death toll and consider advancing an industry wish list.  We urge Congress to get serious about addressing this major public health crisis and stop indulging special trucking interests pushing for bigger, heavier trucks. 

In the history of America, every time there has been an increase in truck size and weight, the result is more, not fewer, registered trucks and trailers. Any claimed reduction in the number of registered trucks and truck vehicle miles traveled (TVMT) would only be temporary. The recent U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study found that any reductions in TVMT would be wiped out within one year. After just one year, even more trucks will be pounding our deteriorating roads and inflicting further damage to our bridges. 

Certain industry members have also claimed a theoretical benefit in shipping capacity which would lead to greater efficiency. But, for this theoretical benefit to be realized, every standard twin 28 trailer would need to be replaced with a double 33 – an implausible scenario. System inefficiencies such as empty (deadhead) trips or below-capacity trailers further decrease any claimed productivity gain. Additionally, many of the nation’s leading trucking companies including Swift, Knight Transportation, PITT OHIO and Heartland Express as well as the Truckload Carriers Association oppose double 33s.  Similarly, truck drivers, law enforcement, public health, consumer and safety organizations oppose this major national policy change.

Longer trucks also have serious safety implications and pose grave risks to families traveling around them. Double trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks. A double 33 will add a minimum of 10 feet to the length of current 28-foot doubles and could top 90 feet long – essentially amounting to the height of an eight-story building. Passing these super-sized trucks will take longer and be more perilous for passenger vehicles. Further, longer trailers will cross into adjacent lanes, interfere with traffic and swing into opposing lanes on curves and while making right-angle turns.

Truck crash deaths and injuries are up significantly, increasing 20 and 57 percents, respectively, from  2009 to 2015. The safety of the American public will only be further jeopardized by allowing this assault on safety to continue.”

Lisa Shrum, Truck Safety Coalition Victim Volunteer, Fayette, MO:

“My mother, Virginia, died on October 10, 2006, in a devastating crash that also killed her husband, Randy. They were driving home to Pleasant Hill, Missouri after dropping off a car in Fayette for my younger brother. They were traveling on Interstate 70 shortly after 11 p.m. Driving conditions were not ideal. But then, they rarely are when you’re on a heavily traveled highway with cars and big trucks moving at high speeds. They had just crested a hill. There was a crash ahead on the road and visibility was poor. In addition, a FedEx double trailer truck had swerved into the left hand shoulder to avoid the upcoming crash. 

Because of the sheer length of the FedEx truck’s two trailers, the back end of the second trailer extended into the passing lane of traffic. Mom’s vehicle hit the double trailer sticking out into the lane ahead of her, spun out, and was then struck by another tractor trailer which sliced her vehicle in half.

Both my mom and Randy were killed. There was a third fatality that day, a young father and husband, and ten people injured in this multi-vehicle crash. When I think about the crash and hear about lobbying efforts by FedEx and others to make trucks even longer and heavier, I cringe. I cringe to think about how much worse it would have been, how many more cars would have been hit, and how many more people would have been killed if longer, heavier trucks were involved. 

Is it really so important that FedEx be allowed to carry more packages when it means more oversized trucks on our streets and highways? Is it really so important for FedEx and other trucking companies to increase their profits? I urge Congress not to put profits of a few behemoth companies ahead of public safety of all motorists.” 

Larry Liberatore, Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Odenton, MD

I took the day off of work to attend today’s hearing in honor of my son, Nick.  Nick was killed on June 9, 1997, just south of the Delaware/Maryland state line on his way to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey with five or six carloads of friends. When the cars were separated while traveling north on Interstate 95, a few of them pulled over on the shoulder of the highway to wait for the others to catch up.  Nick was sitting in the back seat of a car when a tired trucker carrying a load of steel veered across three lanes, and ran over the car. The truck driver had not slowed as he approached the toll booth which was about 1,000 feet past the crash site. 

Hearing FedEx representatives talk about the need for even longer, heavier trucks is terrifying to me.  Whenever I drive down to Washington, D.C., I drive alongside trucks and I know that when it comes down to my car vs. a truck, should a crash occur, 97 percent of fatalities are the car occupants. And I am not alone in this sentiment. In poll after poll, the American public has firmly opposed increases to truck size.  Congress should be considering ways to make our roads safer, not more deadly.

The double 33s proposal is nothing more than a special interest giveaway for a few select special trucking and shipping interests. Families will wind up paying with their lives and their wallets.”

POLITICO PRO: BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION TO TWIN 33s SURFACES AT HEARING

By Tanya Snyder – Politico Pro

03/14/2017 05:16 PM EDT

Bipartisan concern emerged today at a Senate hearing about a proposal to allow trucks carrying twin 33-foot trailers on highways.

“A federal mandate would preempt laws of states that do not want them on road, overriding state legislative decisions to protect public safety,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), whose amendment blocked a proposal in 2015 to allow the double trailers nationwide.

At today’s Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation hearing, Wicker cited statistics showing that twin-trailer trucks have an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single trailer trucks and that 22 percent more people died in large-truck-related crashes in 2015 than in 2009.

Currently, states can choose whether or not to allow the double trailers.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), highlighted the damage the double trailers cause not just to safety but to infrastructure — a $1.1 billion toll, he said, citing DOT statistics.

The truckload industry — the 78 percent of trucks on roads which deliver a truckload of goods to a single customer — strongly opposes allowing twin trailers, while UPS, FedEx and Amazon are pushing to allow them.

Jerry Moyes, the founder of Swift Transportation, said that he found that even twin 28-foot trailers had a significant negative impact on safety — but that if twin 33s are allowed nationwide, competitive pressures would force about half of truckload carriers to switch — an expensive transition for the industry.

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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STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON TOUGHGUARD ANNOUNCEMENT BY IIHS

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON TOUGHGUARD ANNOUNCEMENT BY IIHS

ARLINGTON, VA (March 1, 2017) – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) announced today that five out of eight major North American semitrailer manufacturers met their TOUGHGUARD standard. Great Dane, Manac Inc., Stoughton Trailers LLC, Vanguard National Trailer Corp., and Wabash National Corp, received this recognition of their rear trailer guards that prevent underride crashes involving a mid-size car traveling at 35mph into the rear of the trailer in three different scenarios – 100, 50, and 30 percent overlap.

Underride crashes have long been identified as a safety issue, but little has been done to prevent or mitigate the severity of these of truck crashes, which can nullify a car’s protections and result in passenger compartment intrusion. The Truck Safety Coalition has been a leading voice in advocating for stronger rear underride guards. Unfortunately, both Congress and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have missed opportunities to make a real improvement in this area.

The United States government is so far behind on regulating the issue of underride guards, that NHTSA, has proposed a rule to replace the antiquated U.S. standard with an outdated Canadian standard. The semitrailers manufactured by the recipients of the TOUGHGUARD qualification greatly exceed the Canadian force requirements.

The Truck Safety Coalition salutes IIHS and the abovementioned companies for this major step forward in underride protection. These rear guards will reduce the number of fatalities and injuries resulting from rear underride crashes. We call on Hyundai Translead, Strick Trailers LLC, and Utility Manufacturing Co. – the major North American semitrailer manufacturers whose trailers failed the 30 percent overlap test – to upgrade their rear underride guards to meet the IIHS TOUGHGUARD standard.  

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Jennifer Tierney: Congress must stop ignoring truck safety

For more than 30 years, I have been advocating to make trucking safer, since my father, James Mooney, was killed in a large truck crash in 1983. He was driving on a dark rural road at a time when truck conspicuity was hardly a consideration, and his car rode under the truck trailer that was blocking the roadway. While my advocacy helped lead to a requirement for reflective tape on truck trailers, there are still too many preventable truck crashes.

When I read that a tanker truck hauling non-dairy creamer overturned on I-40 in Forsyth County earlier this month, I was thankful that no one was hurt. Then I found out that the truck driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel before overturning. I was outraged.

The number of truck crashes is continuing to rise, increasing 45 percent since 2009. Yet for the past three years, Congress has passed legislation permitting truck drivers to work more than 80 hours per week, amongst other corporate handouts that will not reduce the amount of truck crashes.

Requiring automatic emergency braking on trucks and mandating side underride guards on trailers are commonsense solutions that will reduce the number of truck crashes, injuries and fatalities. None of these changes, however, were included in the FAST Act or in the accompanying appropriations bill.

Congress should pass legislation requiring all trucks to be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB). This technology will be standard on all new cars in the United States by 2022, and a requirement for it was passed in the European Union in 2012. AEB works by applying the brakes in the event that the truck driver fails to apply the brakes, like if a driver falls asleep behind the wheel.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that forward collision avoidance and mitigation and lane departure warning systems can address 1 out of 4 heavy vehicle involved crashes. Moreover, crash records from motor carriers were examined after some of their fleet was equipped with forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems, and the results were consistent. Trucks without this technology were more than twice as likely to be the striking vehicle in a rear-end crash than trucks with the system.

Unfortunately, Congress has done little to require this technology, while prioritizing efforts to increase the length of double tractor-trailers, which will take even longer to stop than existing double configurations. When Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a bill mandating automatic emergency braking, it died in subcommittee; he subsequently offered it as an amendment to a larger bill to no avail. Some opponents of this technology claimed it might not be effective in reducing crashes, despite ample evidence that it does, while others claimed that AEB would hurt small business because of the costs of technology.

Yet when certain large trucking companies wanted “Double 33” trailers, the language was inserted into a must-pass bill. The opponents who decried the cost of AEB said nothing of the fact that increasing the size of double tractor-trailers would force many smaller companies to upgrade their fleets to remain competitive with larger trucking companies. As with past size and weight increases, there are two things we can anticipate: 1) it will not result in fewer trucks, and 2) shippers will hire companies with the maximum shipping capabilities. This means that small companies will be forced to buy new 33-foot trailers to replace their existing single 53-foot trailers or double 28-foot trailers. New trailers cost thousands of dollars.

It is also frustrating that there are lawmakers who are ready to increase the length of double trailers by five feet per trailer, even though existing trailers have a long recognized safety issue — a lack of side underride guards. While the European Union has required these life-saving protections on trailers for decades, the United States does not and shows no signs of doing so anytime soon. So, increasing double tractor-trailers from 28-feet per trailer to 33-feet per trailer not only results in an additional 22 feet of braking distance and a 6-foot wider turning radius but also 10 more feet of exposed area underneath the trailer.

Improving underride protections would save lives and prevent injuries resulting from truck crashes. Without these protections, bicyclists and pedestrians are at risk of traveling under trailers. Motorists, like my father who was killed in an underride crash, are also at risk of death or injury as underride collisions bypass crumple zones, prevent airbag deployment, and cause passenger compartment intrusion.

I am hopeful that members of Congress will recognize that despite all of their differences, they all represent a state or a district that has constituents who have been adversely affected by truck crashes. They need to be more interested in public safety rather than private interests. Passing a bill requiring automatic emergency braking on trucks and side underride guards on trailers will do just that. Requiring longer trucks that will only benefit a handful of large motor carriers, and will be more difficult for truck drivers to operate, will not.

Link: http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/jennifer-tierney-congress-must-stop-ignoring-truck-safety/article_b9025f41-e207-5084-bea2-f9431917a00f.html

Debra Cruz Letter to the Editor – The Monitor

After I survived a truck crash on Aug. 8, 2008, one of my goals became to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck crashes. Eventually, I began volunteering for the Truck Safety Coalition, a non-profit organization consisting of families of truck crash victims and survivors who also shared in my goal. Since then, I have been able to speak to the public and policy makers about ways to make trucking safer for everyone.

When I heard that state lawmakers were considering increasing truck weights, and that federal lawmakers might consider increasing truck-trailer lengths, I was compelled to speak out against both of these policies, which are premised on a false promise of fewer trucks. The fact remains: The number of trucks on our roads has increased following every past size and weight increase.

Allowing even heavier trucks will further damage our crumbling infrastructure, in particular — bridges, which our state has more of than any other state. Permitting Double 33s will also not enhance safety. In addition to elongating existing double configurations by 10 feet, Double 33s also take longer to break, have a wider turning radius, and are more likely to off-track at low speeds. In short, both policies will not make trucking safer, especially at time when trends indicate truck safety is in decline.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released figures for 2015 that shows there were 4,067 truck fatalities — a 20 percent increase since 2009. In Texas, the trends in truck safety are even more troubling. Between 1994 and 2015, the past four years have been the deadliest with regards to truck crashes.

Clearly, we need to be doing more to prevent truck crashes.

I have been meeting with elected officials in Texas to discuss my crash, in which my vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, about how we can work together to make trucking safer. Had the truck in my crash been equipped with automatic emergency braking, I might not have written this letter, or sustained life-long brain injuries.

Debra Cruz, Truck Safety Coalition, Harlingen

Link: http://www.themonitor.com/opinion/letters/article_b2380214-f4a9-11e6-a76f-d352f30ef392.html

Letter to the editor: Trucks need two safety fixes to prevent highway fatalities

I was devastated to hear about the recent truck crash in which a 5-year-old boy and his volunteer driver were killed on the Maine Turnpike.

As a mother who lost her son in a truck crash, I know the pain and grief the families are going through; my thoughts are with them and will be as they learn to cope with such devastating losses.

As an advocate for truck safety, however, I am angry because this crash, and the fatalities it caused, could have been avoided by requiring two common-sense improvements on large trucks: stronger rear underride guards and automatic emergency braking.

Underride crashes have been identified as a problem dating back to the 1950s. Since that time, the government has required a woefully inadequate and antiquated standard that many times renders useless a car’s protections, like airbag deployment and a crumple zone. Consequently, there is passenger compartment intrusion, which results in truly horrific crashes, like this one.

Automatic emergency braking is a much newer solution than underride guards for reducing truck crashes, but the technology is being developed and employed rapidly. In fact, all major car companies will require automatic emergency braking by 2022. There is no reason why trucks, which take much longer to stop than cars, should not be equipped with it, too.

Daphne Izer

founder and co-chair, Parents Against Tired Truckers

Link: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/11/26/letter-to-the-editor-trucks-need-two-safety-fixes-to-prevent-highway-fatalities/

TRUCK SAFETY COALITION STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION OF U.S. DOT SECRETARY ELAINE CHAO

The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), congratulates Elaine Chao on becoming the 18th Secretary of Transportation of the United States. Our volunteers, families of victims and survivors of large truck crashes, look forward to collaborating with Secretary Chao to improve truck safety in the United States.

As the Secretary noted in her nomination hearing, safety must be a top priority for the Department of Transportation. Since 2009, truck crashes have increased by 45 percent; truck crash injuries have risen by 57 percent; and truck crash fatalities have gone up by 20 percent, resulting in the number of truck crash deaths exceeding 4,000 in the United States for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, the European Union, which has mandated a number of significant safety solutions, including automatic emergency braking and entry-level driver training with a minimum number of hours of behind-the-wheel training, saw their truck crash fatalities drop by 23 percent. Clearly, the laws passed in the EU have enhanced truck safety. We welcome the opportunity to work with Secretary Chao to implement similar policies and technologies.

We wish Secretary Chao success as she leads the Department of Transportation and we are eager to work together to reduce truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities in America.

###

 

 

Truck Crash Fatalities in the United States and European Union (2009-2015)

EU v US Truck Crash Fatalities 2009-2015

PDF Version: EU v US Truck Crash Fatalities

Sources:

United States Data: FARS 2011 – 2013 Final and Fars 2014 – 2015 ARF

European Union Data: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/sites/roadsafety/files/pdf/statistics/dacota/bfs2016_hgvs.pdf

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN ON RELEASE OF FINAL RULE FOR ENTRY-LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF FINAL RULE FOR ENTRY-LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING

ARLINGTON, VA (December 7, 2016) – The Truck Safety Coalition and our volunteers, many of whom are families of truck crash victims and survivors, are extremely disappointed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for releasing such a weak final rule requiring entry-level driver training for commercial motor vehicle drivers. 

After languishing for 25 years following a mandate from Congress, we were 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 several meetings throughout the past year, 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 has been a waste. The final rule does not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it. 

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.

The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training rule for CMV drivers has been a colossal waste of time. This final rule is both insufficient in terms of advancing safety and an insult to the memories of those killed in crashes caused by inexperienced and untrained truck drivers.

###

Statement on Release of Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Final Rule

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL CLEARINGHOUSE FINAL RULE

ARLINGTON, VA (December 2, 2016) – After years of unnecessary delays, we are pleased that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today published a final rule to establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This 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 currently pose a major threat to everyone on the road, but under the longtime system of self-reporting many employers were unable to access this 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.

Truck Safety Coalition volunteers have first-hand experience with the deadly outcomes that result from truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  Too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not unearthed until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues.  This will no longer be the case as employers in the industry can now preemptively promote safety by identifying and not hiring dangerous drivers.

###

Statement on Selection of Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation

The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), looks forwards to working with Secretary-Designate of Transportation, Elaine Chao, and President-Elect Donald Trump on behalf of our volunteers who have lost loved ones in truck crashes to improve overall truck safety in the United States. Our volunteers know first-hand the devastating consequences of preventable truck crashes and have transcended their own losses and injuries to advocate for truck safety improvements to benefit all who drive on our roads.

A focus on safety is crucial given the troubling trends in truck safety. Truck crashes have skyrocketed by 45 percent between 2009 and 2015 and the injuries they cause rose at an even faster rate in that same period, climbing by a staggering 57 percent. Unfortunately, there are also more and more families like the ones who volunteer with our organization, who have an empty seat at their tables, as the number of people killed in truck crashes continues to grow. In fact, this past year marked the first time since 2008 that the number of truck crash deaths exceeded 4,000.

We wish Ms. Chao success on becoming our nation’s next top transportation official and offer our insight, experience, and assistance to her as she navigates the challenging issues in trucking that pertain to drivers, the vehicles, the industry as a whole, and the people with whom truck drivers share the road.

 

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

Senator Schumer Speaks Out in Support of Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

Long Island Expressway (LIE) Speed Limit Is 55MPH But Any Long Islander Can Tell You That Big Rigs, Even Large Buses, Often Give It The Gas & Exceed The Limit, Putting Thousands Upon Thousands Of Everyday Drivers At Risk For Accidents—Or Worse 

Ready-To-Go Technology That Caps Big Rig Speed Has Far and Wide Support But Requires Feds To Approve Across-The-Board Installation

Schumer: Capping Big Rig Speed – On The LIE and Elsewhere – Should Get Green Light 

Standing nearby the Long Island Expressway, amidst passing trucks, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to swiftly finalize a proposed rule that would require electronic speeding devices in large trucks, buses and school buses over 26,000 pounds.

“For every Long Island driver who has been next to or in the crosshairs of a speeding big rig, a technology like this can’t come fast enough,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Trucks, and large buses that barrel down our roads unsafely put everyone in danger, but now that we have a sensible technology that can make extreme truck and bus speeds a thing of the past, we must push the feds to accelerate its swift adoption. The LIE is just one of New York’s big rig attractions, and so, capping speed in a safe and reasonable way will make this expressway and everyday drivers safer.”

“There is ample proof that speed limiting technology reduces crashes, prevents injuries, and saves lives.” said Steve Owings, who co-founded Road Safe America (RSA) with his wife, Susan, after their son Cullum was killed by a speeding big rig on Virginia Interstate highway. “When Ontario required speed limiters, they experienced a 24 percent reduction in truck crash fatalities. When truck companies that have voluntarily adopted speed limiters set them on their trucks, their trucks were less likely to be involved in highway speed crashes than trucks that do not set their speed limiters. With nearly thirty delays over the ten years since RSA filed the petition for rulemaking to require all trucks to be equipped with a heavy vehicle speed limiters set at a reasonable top speed, I am frustrated that NHTSA and FMCSA produced a proposed rule that only applies to new trucks. Susan and I hope that the agencies modify the proposal to apply to all trucks and issue a final rule immediately. We are grateful that Senator Schumer is pushing for this much-need technology that will make our roads safer.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, stated, “The heavy vehicle speed limiter rule is a life saving measure that is long overdue. At a time when truck crashes have shot up 44 percent between 2009 and 2014, and truck crash fatalities have exceeded 4,000 for the first time since 2008, our regulators should be working diligently to produce a final rule that applies to all large trucks as quickly as possible. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) note in their joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that this technology has been standard in most trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds since the 1990s. There is no reason this commonsense rule should not apply to all trucks. Our volunteers – families of truck crash victims and truck crash survivors – thank Senator Schumer for taking on this issue that causes too many preventable deaths and injuries.”

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed installing large commercial trucks with electronic devices that limit their speeds on roadways, and requiring the devices to be set to a maximum speed. Schumer highlighted that while the federal rule making process can sometimes take years, this rule should be finalized as quickly as possible so that installation of the systems can begin quickly and drivers can be properly trained.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), approximately 70 percent of trucking companies already use electronic limiters. Schumer today said that adopting this proposal could help reduce the more than 1,000 fatalities involving heavy vehicles and speed every year. Schumer highlighted that while many trucks and large vehicles are operated safely, technology like speed-limiters, when used correctly can help crack down on the few bad actors who are putting lives in danger.

According to NHTSA, in 2014 there were 3,903 people killed and 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks nationwide. Of the people killed in large truck crashes, 83% were occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.

According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, since 2009, there has been a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a 50 percent rise in the number of injuries in large-truck crashes.

According to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2014, there were 10,742 police-reported large truck crashes in the state of New York. Of these crashes, 990 were related to unsafe speed.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), speed is a contributor to roughly 29 percent of all fatal crashes. And, driving too fast for conditions or over the posted speed limit was the primary reason for 18 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was deemed at fault.

According to NHTSA and FMCSA, even a small increase in speed among large trucks will have large effects on the force impact in a crash, and that’s why, Schumer said, this proposal is so important. According to estimates in the proposed rulemaking, limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 60 miles per hour would save an estimated 162 to 498 lives annually; limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 65 miles per hour would save 63 to 214 lives annually; and limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 68 miles per hour would save 27 to 96 lives annually. The FMCSA proposal would also prevent an estimated 179 to 551 serious injuries and 3,356 to 10,306 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 60 miles per hour; 70 to 236 serious injuries and 1,299 to 4,535 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 65 miles per hour; and 30 to 106 serious injuries and 560 to 1,987 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 68 miles per hour.

Schumer today urged the USDOT to quickly approve this rule so that electronic speed limiters would be installed in trucks as soon as possible. Schumer said the rule should be finalized in a way that also ensures the continued safety of truck drivers by allowing them to safely accelerate and merge. Schumer said that the benefits of this proposal are two-fold: requiring electronic speeding devices in trucks would not only help save lives and prevent injuries, but also positively impact the environment. According to NHTSA and FMCSA, requiring speed limiting devices could result in fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions totaling $850 million annually.

Schumer pointed to the number of fatalities involving large trucks in New York between 2009-2015, according to NHTSA:

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
New York State: # of Fatalities 107 120 114 100 118 98 126
Long Island: # of Fatalities 16 15 19 17 14 14 18
Long Island: % of Total Fatalities 14.95% 12.50% 16.67% 17.00% 11.86% 14.29% 14.29%
NYC: # of Fatalities 27 24 38 28 27 28 27
NYC: % of Total Fatalities 25.23% 20.00% 33.33% 28.00% 22.88% 28.57% 21.43%

*NYC includes Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island; and Long Island includes Nassau and Suffolk

 

Schumer’s letter to FMCSA Administrator Darling and NHTSA Administrator Rosekind appears below:

Dear Administrator Darling and Administrator Rosekind:

I write to you today to both applaud your efforts to commence a rulemaking on truck speed limiters and urge you to finalize this rule as quickly as possible. As you know, truck speed limiters, if implemented safely, have the potential to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of crashes. While most truck drivers and other heavy vehicle operators operate safely, truck speed limiters can help prevent the handful of dangerous actors from inflicting high-speed damage on our roadways.

I appreciate the need to have a careful and thorough rulemaking process, but feel strongly that your agencies should do everything they can to move through this process and finalize this common sense rule as quickly as possible. I’d also urge your agencies to work closely with truck drivers to ensure that the rule is implemented in a way that still allows them to safely merge and operate their vehicles.

Throughout New York State we have had a long-history with high-speed truck related crashes. In 2014 alone, there were 10,742 policed-reported large truck crashes, 74 of which were fatal and 990 of which were related to unsafe speed. While truck speed limiters will not prevent all crashes, they will certainly significantly reduce both the number and severity of these accidents. It’s for these reasons that I urge your agencies to move swiftly to finalize this rule.

Thank you for your consideration, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

 

 

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.

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING FOR HEAVY VEHICLE SPEED LIMITERS

Arlington, VA (August 26, 2016) – After ten years since a petition for rulemaking was filed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter rule. TSC supports a rule that extends the set speed requirement to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds that are already equipped with a speed limiting device, and that requires the speed limiters to be set at 65 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this proposed rule fails to outline either of these requirements.

As TSC has stated before, this technology has been built into most truck’s engine control module (ECM) since the 1990s. The agencies reaffirmed this in the NPRM. Nevertheless, they have chosen, so far, to only apply this rule to new trucks, while asking for comment “on whether to require that the speed limiting devices in these older CMVs be set to a speed not greater than a maximum specified set speed.” It is unreasonable that in the ten years since the petition was filed and after acknowledging in their NPRM that ECMs “have been installed in most heavy trucks since 1999,” that NHTSA and FMCSA were unable to propose a rule that extended to older CMVs with this technology already installed.

Furthermore, it is discouraging that after all of these years the agencies were unable to decide upon a speed limit, 60 mph, 65 mph, or 68 mph. That is a range of eight miles per hour. This may seem like a minimal difference in speed, but as the agencies note in their NPRM – this can have a huge effect on the impact force during a crash: “As speed increases, so does the amount of kinetic energy a vehicle has.” So how can the agencies note that a difference of five miles per hour can greatly enhance the kinetic energy of a vehicle, while considering setting speed limiters at 60 mph or 68 mph? The fact of the matter is that the agencies should have selected a speed to set the limiters before publishing the NPRM so that the public could have commented on their choice; asking for comments on all three options should have been asked when the petition was granted back in 2011.

We hope between now and the publication of this rule, NHTSA and FMCSA remember that their primary goals are to promote safety, and will implement a commonsense, life-saving rule.

###

Statement on Announcement of Notice of Proposed Speed Limiter Rule

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Setting of Speed Limiters in Large Trucks to be Released;

TSC Encourages Agency to Apply Regulation to All Large Trucks

Arlington, VA (August 18, 2016): The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is pleased that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) promulgated a Proposed Rule requiring speed limiters to be set on large trucks. This standard equipment, which is built into the truck’s engine control module, has actually been manufactured in large trucks since the early 1990s. While requiring speed limiters will advance truck safety and prevent needless truck crash injuries and fatalities, if the agency decides to only apply the rule to new trucks, it will greatly blunt the potential safety benefits.

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, explained the importance of this rule applying to all large trucks rather than just newer units: “According to findings from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, more than one out of five large truck crashes were coded as ‘traveling too fast for conditions.’ By capping the speed at which large trucks can travel, this will not only reduce the occurrences of truck crashes, but will also greatly reduce the risk of death or injury by decreasing the impact of the collision.”

“Additionally, the safety benefits of speed limiters have not just been studied, but have also been realized by companies that equipped their trucks with this life-saving technology,” Lannen continued. “One company found that their non-speed limited vehicles were involved in over 40 percent of potentially severe crashes, despite only constituting 17 percent of their fleet. In Ontario, Canada, there was a 24 percent reduction in truck crashes within one year of mandating speed limiters to be set at 65mph. And when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studied speed limiters, the agency determined that trucks equipped with speed limiters were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a crash. Clearly this regulation will produce safety benefits, but the extent of those benefits can only be maximized by applying this rule to as many large trucks as possible.”

Lannen, concluded, “While we welcome this safety advancement, we find it necessary to point out that this rule took far too long to be published. The petition to initiate the rulemaking was filed in September of 2006. After a decade and almost 30 delays, it is clear that there is a problem with the rulemaking process. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this broken system are the thousands of unnecessary speeding-related truck crashes that have occurred between then and now. We look forward to the United States catching up to other leading countries on the implementation of speed limiters, and will continue working to ensure that rather than following, the United States will lead on other safety advancements in trucking, in particular – automatic emergency braking.”

Automatic Emergency Braking – Prime Time for Regulation

Written by Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

Truck crashes are a serious public health and safety problem. Each year on average, 4,000 people are killed in large-truck crashes. That is equivalent to the death toll of a major airplane crash every other week of the year. Another 100,000 people are injured annually. The economic cost to society from commercial motor vehicle crashes exceeds $100 billion annually.

Alarmingly, we have experienced a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a staggering 50 percent rise in the number of people injured in large-truck crashes since 2009. With total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase as much as 35 percent by 2040, the urgent need to make trucks safer for all motorists has never been greater.

Fortunately, we already have solutions to significantly improve safety and prevent needless crashes. One common sense safety measure that would curb frequent and fatal truck crashes is the use of automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems. Yet, in a column published by Trucks.com, truck driver Shelley Uvanile-Hesch argued that AEB technology needs more research before requiring it for new trucks. We respectfully disagree.

The federal agency responsible for regulating this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has studied rear-end crashes, which are the primary target of automatic braking technology, and estimated that the death and injury toll is significant. Large trucks are the striking vehicle in approximately 32,000 crashes resulting in 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries annually. The agency further estimates that with automatic braking systems tuned to react to both moving and stopped lead vehicles, nearly 60 percent of fatalities and injuries in these types of collisions could be prevented.

Automatic braking technology has been offered on large trucks since at least 2006, making the technology nearly a decade old. Manufacturers and suppliers continue to improve the technology and expand its capabilities. In fact, NHTSA recently released a report on a field study of crash avoidance systems, or CAS, finding that in over 3 million miles of data, no rear-end crashes of the type that CAS are designed to prevent occurred from subject vehicles. It also found that while improvements to the systems can be made, they generally work as intended.

Yet Ms. Uvanile-Hesch’s experience does highlight an issue for concern. While the technology exists to put effective crash avoidance systems in trucks, we must make sure that it works properly. That’s why we need a minimum federal safety standard to ensure that the technology currently in use is reliable and meets basic requisites of functionality. In fact, some motor carriers already are paying to install this technology on new trucks even though there are no guarantees that it will perform as advertised.

That needs to change.

My organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety — together with other consumer, public health and safety groups as well as truck crash victims and survivors — has petitioned NHTSA to act. Our petition requests that the agency require the use of forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking, or F-CAM, systems on all new large trucks and buses with a minimum gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds.

F-CAM technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. F-CAM systems employ a Forward Collision Warning, or FCW, to inform a driver when his or her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly ahead. This gives the driver a chance to brake in time. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, a Collision Mitigation Braking, or CMB, system automatically applies the brakes to prevent the crash or reduce its severity.

NHTSA estimates that current generation F-CAM systems can prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and that future systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually.

Our petition urges the establishment of performance requirements. Other critical safety systems in cars and trucks must meet minimum federal standards, including brakes, seat belts, air bags, tires, headlamps and electronic stability control. In the absence of a federal standard, each manufacturer and supplier can design its system to function differently and, in some cases, ineffectively. All drivers should be afforded the assurance that the automatic braking technology will perform at the most critical moments in the driving task. These standards would also include requirements for durability and other aspects of performance. Without a regulation, design and performance choices made by manufacturers and suppliers may not result in sufficient braking capability to guarantee safety and reliability.

Furthermore, our petition focused on automatic braking systems that would only operate in emergencies, and would not interfere with advanced cruise control or other types of systems. That addresses some of the problems Ms. Uvanile-Hesch said she encountered driving her big rig. Automatic braking systems are intended to intervene only when a collision is imminent and to take control of braking only when a driver has failed to apply the brakes or perform any evasive maneuver.

Purchasing a new car or truck involves numerous decisions by the prospective buyer, including cost and safety features. AEB is a crash avoidance technology that will prevent crashes and will result in saving lives and saving money. This important lifesaving technology should be standard equipment on all new trucks and buses and should be required to meet minimum federal performance requirements. It is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that safety systems on planes, trains, trucks and cars work well and work every time. Less-than-ideal performance of current automatic braking systems actually sounds the alarm on the urgent need for NHTSA to establish uniform safety standards for AEB.

Editor’s note: Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, has devoted her career to advancing highway, auto, and motor carrier safety. She has held senior positions in government and public-interest organizations. 

Link: https://www.trucks.com/2016/06/23/automatic-emergency-braking-ready/

Recent FedEx Crashes

We wanted to bring to your attention several disturbing crashes that have occurred recently. There are several contributing factors that caused these crashes, such as double tractor-trailers, fatigue, and failure to stop in time. But all of these crashes share one thing in common – a FedEx truck was involved.

Pennsylvania: FedEx truck hits Wayne Valley H.S. school bus on class trip to Dorney Park

http://newjersey.news12.com/news/fedex-truck-hits-wayne-valley-h-s-school-bus-on-class-trip-to-dorney-park-1.11886818

Texas: I-30 Reopens After FedEx Truck Crashes, Spills Fuel

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/FedEx-Truck-Crashes-Shuts-Down-I-30-in-Dallas-381080171.html

California: 1 Dead, 4 Injured in Interstate 5 Crash Near Coalinga

http://abc30.com/news/1-dead-4-injured-in-interstate-5-crash-near-coalinga/1327088/

Mississippi: FedEx [double trailer] truck involved in Highway 78 crash

http://www.wdam.com/story/31961768/fedex-truck-involved-in-highway-78-crash

California: CHP Details Deadly Big Rig Crash on I-10 in Cabazon (FedEx double tractor trailer)

http://patch.com/california/banning-beaumont/least-one-killed-cabazon-big-rig-crash-i-10-chp-0

Tennessee: FedEx [double tractor trailer] driver issued fatigue citation after 8-vehicle crash on I-24

http://wkrn.com/2016/05/05/crash-on-i-24-w-near-ohb-causing-significant-delays/

Texas: 18-wheeler crash shuts down I-35 in Salado (FedEx double tractor-trailer)

http://www.newswest9.com/story/31556016/18-wheeler-crash-shuts-down-i-35-in-salado

Tennessee: Answers sought after FedEx [double trailer] truck captured swerving for 60 miles on I-40 (no crash, but watch video)

http://wkrn.com/2016/06/08/answers-sought-after-fedex-truck-captured-swerving-for-60-miles-on-i-40/

One Person Injured in Truck Crash in Cowley County, KS

On May 24, 2016, at approximately 5:25 p.m., Catherine Cranmer, 23, was traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 77, when a tractor-trailer crossed her path as the truck driver attempted to cross Highway 77 on N Summit Road.  Ms. Cranmer’s Infiniti crashed into and went under the semitrailer.

Ms. Cranmer was transported to South Central Kansas Medical Center for treatment of disabling injuries suffered in the crash.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in large truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

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

                                                  WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Woman Died in a Truck Crash in Uinta County, WY

On May 23, 2016, at approximately 10:55 p.m., Jonah McWinn, 70, was traveling westbound on I-80, when she pulled off the interstate onto the shoulder when a commercial truck came upon Ms. McWinn’s Ford Escape and crashed into it.

Ms. McWinn was fatally injured in the crash.

The truck driver was not injured.  The crash is under investigation by the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 and One Injured in a Truck Crash in Suwanee County, FL

On May 12, 2016, at approximately 12:00 p.m., Benjamin Piechoczek, 19, and Jordan Gutheim, 20, were the occupants of a Volvo traveling southbound on FL State Road 247, when it was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact sent the Volvo into the northbound lane where it was struck by a northbound pickup truck.

Mr. Piechoczek and Ms. Gutheim were fatally injured in the crash. The pickup driver, Ronald Krywosinski, 64, was transported to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The truck driver not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.  Charges are pending.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 person dead and one person injured in a truck crash in Wayne County, IN

On May 22, 2016, at approximately 3:45 p.m., Margaret Ryan, 22, was traveling eastbound on I-70, in stop and go traffic, when her Audi SUV was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact pushed the SUV underneath the back of a second semi.

Ms. Ryan was fatally injured in the crash.  Her passenger, Christine Yip, 25, was transported to a hospital for treatment of injuries.

The truck driver was not injured.  He was cited for driving too fast to avoid a collision. The crash is under investigation by the Indiana State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Truck Driver Seriously Injured after a Truck Wreck in Montgomery County, IA

On May 18, 2016, at approximately 4:00 p.m., John Jamison, 55, was driving a concrete truck northbound on Avenue B, when a southbound tractor-trailer crossed over the center line on the highway and made contact with the concrete truck. The impact sent the concrete truck into the east ditch where it overturned.

Mr. Jamison was transported to Montgomery County Memorial Hospital for treatment of serious injuries suffered in the crash.

The other truck driver was not injured.  The crash is under investigation by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 Person Dead and Four Injured in a Truck Crash in Isle of Wright County, VA

On May 19, 2016, at approximately 8:00 a.m., Annie Mae Eley, 86, was a back seat passenger in a Pontiac. The vehicle stopped at a red light in northbound VA Route 32, when the Pontiac was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact caused a chain reaction crash involving four vehicles.

Ms. Eley was transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where she succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash. Four other victims suffered non-life threatening injuries.

The truck driver was not injured. He was charged with reckless driving and other charges may be pending. The crash is under investigation by the Virginia State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 Man Dead in a Truck Crash in Upshur County, TX

Wednesday May 18, 2016, approximately at 3:30 a.m., a truck driver was traveling northbound on U.S. Highway 271, when he crossed into the oncoming lanes and sideswiped a southbound semi.  The impact caused the northbound semi to overturn across both northbound lanes. A northbound pickup truck struck the semitrailer.

The driver of the pickup, Robert Williams, 57, was fatally injured in the crash.

The truck drivers were not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Runner hit by a flying tire in Dade County, FL

On May 23, 2016, approximately 7:30 a.m., a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer on the Rickenbacker Causeway, when two tires (each weighing more than 200 pounds) came off the truck. One tire went into a parking lot. The other tire bounced across several lanes of traffic and struck two runners jogging on the opposite side of the causeway.

One of the two runners was Stephanie Hilzinger, 40, who was knocked unconscious. She was running with her fiancé, Fernando Munoz, also in his 40s, who suffered cuts and bruises.  Ms. Hilzinger was transported to Ryder Trauma Center where she is in ICU with serious injuries

Initially, the truck driver was unaware of the circumstances. He was flagged down by another motorist and returned to the scene. The crash is under investigation by the Miami Police Department.

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

 

Healthcare Costs to Employees, Industry Benefits Focus of Final FMCSA/FRA Listening Session

truck FMCSA sleep apnea

The final public listening session in Los Angeles, Calif, on the proposed guidelines for obstructive sleep apnea focused on the benefits for the commercial transportation industry as well as the impact on employee healthcare costs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) held the final of three public listening sessions in Los Angeles, Calif, on May 25, 2016 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites. According to the FMCSA, the listening sessions were intended to solicit information from the public on the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation, its potential consequences for safety, and the potential costs and benefits of possible regulatory actions. The listening session in Los Angeles provided interested parties the opportunity to share their views on this topic along with any relevant studies and data.

A Voice for the Public

The Los Angeles session included a panel of members from both the FMCSA and FRA to represent each organization and interact with attendees. The panel included: Mark A. Patterson, executive officer for safety operations for the FRA; Shannon L. Watson, senior advisor, policy and program development, FMCSA; Matthew L. Navarrete, trial attorney for the FRA; Larry W. Minor, associate administrator, office of policy, for the FMCSA; BJ Arseneau, DO, chief medical officer for the FRA; and Gina Pervall, MD, chairman of the medical review board for the FMCSA.

Only a few members of the public attended the Los Angeles session in person. Three attendees total made public comments (two commented in the morning session, and one commented during the afternoon session). The event was live broadcast online, and the public could also comment online during the event. Both the morning and afternoon sessions ended early because all attendees who wished to publicly comment were finished speaking.

The first of the three attendees who addressed the panel was Kevin Walgenbach, vice president of compliance & regulatory affairs for the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA). Walgenbach, who says the NRMCA represents more than 2,000 companies and 125,000 employees, said he believes the current regulatory framework is sufficient and he is opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to OSA testing and screening because of the drivers’ unique needs. Walgenbach also said the proposed rules may impact the ability to recruit new drivers. Also, in his estimation, the 2012 enforced recommendations caused a number of issues in the commercial trucking industry, such as unnecessary costs and false diagnoses, and he supports a comprehensive pilot study before the rules are finalized.

“The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association at this time is opposed to any new regulation mandating sleep apnea screenings. The current regulatory framework already exists to address sleep disorders among commercial motor vehicle drivers. A more pointed examination of certified medical examiners and their practices related sleep disorder determinations for drivers may yield better results aimed at increased safety on our nation’s roads,” said Walgenbach. “With this fishing expedition on sleep apnea it is clear that the agencies have not taken seriously concerns relating to limited medical coverage for sleep apnea or currently unemployed drivers looking to enter the workforce.” Walgenbach said until these issues are examined, any new rulemaking, in addition to the current regulatory framework, would be improper.

Tami Friedrich Trakh, a board member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and a member of the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, was the second speaker in the morning session and is a proponent of the suggested guidelines. In a statement to the panel, Trakh said she is surprised that there is strong resistance to OSA screening and treatment in the commercial transportation industry, adding that fatigue has been recognized as a major safety issue for more than 70 years. Trakh said OSA does have an effect on traffic accidents and ardently said that more must be done to prevent fatigued driving.

According to Trakh, a 2006 FMCSA study revealed that 65% of truck drives reported they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep behind the while driving in the previous year. “Nearly 20 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, but truck drivers are at a much greater risk for this health problem (some studies estimate that up to 50% of truck drivers are at risk compared to 5% of the general population.) There are solutions that are available, like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, but they are of no use if the drivers are not using them,” Trakh said. “According to results from one study of sleep apnea, 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. These staggering statistics should give pause to those denying that this sleep disorder has an effect on crashes.”

Trakh said she looks forward to seeing a final rule that would require commercial motor vehicle drivers to be screened, tested, and treated for OSA.

In the afternoon session of the Los Angeles meeting, Dana Voien, president and CEO of SleepSafe Drivers, a provider of programs for sleep apnea and fatigue management to fleets and high-risk occupations, addressed the panel as a proponent of the proposed guidelines. Voien said the screening and treatment of OSA has benefits for the commercial transportation industry and having a uniform rule will help fleets as well as individuals drivers. Voien highlighted the importance of showing drivers in this industry that the proposed rules for screening and treatment will be a benefit and not an imposition, and studies have shown that the guidelines can protect drivers’ health and keep them on the job.

“We believe that a rule for sleep apnea will lead to dramatic reductions in both rail and truck related accidents, fatalities, and total expenses nationwide, helping those workers to lead longer and healthier lives and careers,” said Voien. “There have been numerous large and statistically significant studies done with truckers and rail workers specifically, all of which show a direct link between untreated sleep apnea and increased risk of crash (2.5 to 5x), plus a doubling of hospital costs, a doubled risk for heart attacks, a five-fold increase in strokes, a 70% increase in sick days and Workers Comp claims, and a 90% increased risk of forced early retirement due to health issues.”

Safety and Support for Drivers

According to Voien, testing and treatment done through Fatigue Management Programs (FMP) tailored for trucking and rail workers are documented to help drivers get tested and treated in 1 to 3 days, reduce accident rates, and deliver 96% to 98% treatment success. Voien said testing and treating through a comprehensive FMP should include a variety of components, including education, both in-lab polysomnography and home sleep tests as available options, and ongoing PAP compliance monitoring and support. “Drivers and rail workers must be assured they will be supported throughout the process, and over time through the FMP program. Bottom line, ‘We care about your health and safety,’” said Voien.

“Based on 20 years of leadership in transportation, I feel that publishing a regulation (using the same language from the last FMCSA rule publication) on sleep apnea is a positive and critically needed action,” Steven Garrish, MBA, CDS, senior vice president of business development/new ventures for SleepSafe Drivers, later said in response to a Sleep Review follow-up e-mail. “Much like the value that has been brought to the industry from required physicals, drug and alcohol screening and other vital measures; having a clear and thoughtful regulation on sleep apnea testing and treatment (as part of a comprehensive FMP) is the next logical step for improving safety and a higher quality of life for those who work so hard to support and protect our nation’s supply chain.”

Also via e-mail, D. Alan Lankford, PhD, FAASM, chief science officer at SleepSafe Drivers, said, “FMCSA/FRA are seeking input on how to craft the most effective and efficient regulation to address the potential safety risks associated with OSA. For this regulation to be successful, the potential impact to the industry must be acknowledged. In all cases, the goal should be protecting public safety and enhancing the industry professionals’ safety and well-being while keeping the freight/cargo moving.” (emphasis Lankford’s)

Though the in-person listening sessions are now over, the public still has until June 8 to comment on the proposed regulation online.

Cassandra Perez is associate editor for Sleep Review. CONTACT cperez@nullallied360.com

Truckers clash with regulators

Truck drivers are battling with the Obama administration over a long-delayed proposal related to drug and alcohol testing.

The Transportation Department is moving to establish a national database — also known as a clearinghouse — that would list truck drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. It would also list drivers who have refused to take them.

The administration and supporters of the proposal say the database would make it easier for employers to conduct background checks before they hire new drivers.

“Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol testing, and especially those who are repeat violators, pose a significant risk to the driving public,” the Truck Safety Coalition said in comments filed with the Transportation Department.

The department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the rule to the White House last month for final approval after a two-year delay.

Safety advocates, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, argue the database will help keep dangerous drivers off the road by closing a loophole that allows truck drivers who have been fired for substance abuse to continue operating commercial motor vehicles.

Trucking companies also support the rule, which could save them money by cutting back on crashes. Having a central database could also shield them from liability when accidents occur.

“Motor carriers support it, because they want to hire safe, qualified drivers, and they need full and complete histories of prospective drivers to do that,” said Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at the American Trucking Associations.

But truck drivers fear former employers could use the database to unfairly punish drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents some 150,000 truck drivers, is concerned that trucking companies will use the threat of falsely
reported alcohol and drug tests to “punish or retaliate against drivers.”

“The report of a bad drug test can be the end of a driver’s employability,” the OOIDA told the Treasury Department.

The Transportation Department already requires truck drivers to report failed tests to their current and future employers, but safety advocates doubt that the “self-reporting” requirements are effective.

Without a national database to track the results, drivers who have been fired can find jobs with new employers. That could have “deadly consequences,” according to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Unless a history of drug and alcohol violations are voluntarily supplied, the employers lack adequate information to avoid hiring these dangerous drivers,” according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

In addition, not every company that employs a driver is notified when a driver fails a drug or alcohol test. Working for multiple trucking companies is common in the industry.

“In the interest of safety, the clearinghouse should immediately notify all of a driver’s employers when the driver is to be removed from a safety sensitive position,” the American Trucking Associations wrote.

“If such a process is not provided, employers will be forced to rely on the honesty of their employees to inform them of their non-compliance,” it added. “Yet, there is little to compel an employee in such circumstances to do so.”

Trucking companies and safety advocates are pushing the administration to strengthen the rule so that the database includes drivers who avoided being tested by admitting to substance abuse problems.

The American Trucking Associations argues that truck drivers who either admitted to or were observed by their employers using drugs or alcohol should also be included in the database.

But the truck drivers group says trucking companies often use the tests unfairly.

“One scheme motor carriers use is to require a driver to take a drug test at a date and time that is impossible for the driver to meet — whether due to the distance the driver must travel to the drug testing facility or the simultaneous work demands of the carrier,” the OOIDA wrote. 

“Another scheme is to tag a driver with a refusal after the driver is terminated or resigns from the motor carrier,” it added.

Link to Article: http://thehill.com/regulation/transportation/281796-truckers-clash-with-regulators

 

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.

One Man Dead and a Woman Injured due to a Truck Crash in Deuel County, NE

On May 1, 2016, at approximately, 1:25 a.m., Sophia Wooley, 26, and Victor Wooley, 35, were traveling eastbound on I-80 freeway when they stopped on a construction zone. Suddenly, the minivan was struck from behind by a semi-truck also traveling eastbound on I-80.

 

Mr. Wooley was pronounced dead at the scene and Ms. Wooley was transported to a hospital in Julesburg, CO for treatment of her injuries.

 

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol.

 

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

 

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 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

Motorcyclist Killed in Truck Crash in Union County, NJ

On May 13, 2016, sometime before 10:00 a.m., Phillip Loureiro, 39, was riding his motorcycle on U.S. Route 1, when the motorcycle was involved in a collision with a tractor-trailer.

Mr. Loureiro was fatally injured in the crash.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Linden Police Department and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Three People Dead and a Child in Critical Conditions due to a Truck Crash in Montgomery County, TX

On April 23, 2016, at approximately 11:00 a.m., a truck driver driving an 18-wheeler was on Texas 105 near South Walker Road when traffic slowed down due to a slow moving convoy. He failed to slow down and crashed into the back of a Mercedes Sedan. The impact forced the Mercedes into the back of Cadillac Sedan. A total of four vehicles were impacted in the crash.

Two people died at the scene. Both victims were identified as Eric Shirley, 57, and his passenger, Doris Moorer, 76. A mother, identified as Jennifer Crain, 31, and her son were taken to Conroe Regional Medical Center. Ms. Crain succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. Her son was transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for treatment of critical injuries.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the truck driver failed to control his speed before crashing into four vehicles. The truck driver was charged with three second degree felony counts of intoxication manslaughter and one felony count of injury to a child. The crash is under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 injured in large truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

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

                                                            WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Truck Driver Killed in a Truck Crash in Riverside County, CA

On May 11, 2016, at approximately 11:00 a.m., Miguel Rolon, 59, was driving a flatbed tractor-trailer eastbound on I-10, when the truck became disabled and stopped on the roadway. Mr. Rolon exited the truck and climbed onto the trailer waving his arms to warn traffic.  The driver of a Fed Ex semi-truck failed to see Mr. Rolon and crashed into the back of Mr. Rolon’s truck.

The impact threw Mr. Rolon to the ground. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Fed Ex truck driver suffered minor injuries and was transported to Desert Regional Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

21 Years Old Man Died after Semi-Truck Slammed into Tractor in Jefferson County, Idaho

On April 27, 2016, at approximately 4:23 p.m., when McNeil Walker, 21, was driving a John Deere tractor southbound on I-15 when a semi-truck struck him from behind. The impact of the crash sent both vehicles rolling into the median. Walker died at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Idaho State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 Boy Injured in a Truck Wreck in Fresno County, CA

On May 16, 2016, at approximately 5:00 p.m., Linda Iverson-Gutierrez was slowing in traffic on CA Highway 99, when a tractor-trailer following her Ford Edge failed to slow down. The semi crashed in the back of the Ford Edge causing the vehicle to crash into a cement retaining wall.

Ms. Iverson-Gutierrez was fatally injured in the crash. Her 17 year-old passenger was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, for treatment of an arm fracture.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the California Highway Patrol. The results of the investigation will be sent to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office.

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 Clarendon Women Killed in Truck Crash in Lonoke County, AR

On April 19, 2016, at approximately 9:30 a.m., when a woman identified as Linda Brewster, 47, and her passenger, Lora Piggee, 49, were traveling westbound on I-40 when a tractor-trailer struck the vehicle and a second semi-truck crashed into it from behind.

Both of the women died at the scene and neither of the truck drivers were injured. The crash is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Tampa-Area Businessman, Lance Ringhaver Died in Truck Crash

On April 4, 2016, at approximately 8:35 p.m., Lance C. Ringhaver was driving an Infinity Q705 south in the center lane on U.S. Highway 41 in Apollo Beach when it came upon a tractor-trailer, blocking the roadway. The truck driver attempted to make a left turn north of U.S. Highway 41, but failed to make a complete turn when Ringhaver crashed into the tractor trailer truck and his car was wedged underneath.  Mr. Ringhaver died at the scene.

The truck driver, identified as Isbel Perez Guzman was not injured, but was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed in truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

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

Husband and Wife Died in a Truck Crash in Edgar County, IL

On May 17, 2016, at approximately 11:21 a.m., Clyde Kingery, 82 was traveling northbound on IL Route 49 with his wife, Mary Kingery, 79, when a southbound tractor-trailer left the roadway and re-entered it, traveling into the northbound lane. Mr. Kingery attempted to move onto the right shoulder of the highway, but the semi struck his Buick Regal head-on.

Ms. Kingery died instantly from injuries sustained in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Kingery Jr. was extricated from the wreckage and transported to the emergency room at Paris Community Hospital. He was pronounced dead in the ER at 1:18 p.m.

The truck driver and his passenger were transported to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Illinois State Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

College Student Killed in a Truck Crash in Bucks County, PA

On April 25, 2016, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Kelly O’Brien, 18, was driving eastbound on the Pennsylvania, Turnpike when a truck also driving eastbound crashed and overturned on top of Ms. O’Brien’s vehicle.

The tractor-trailer was carrying 20,000 pounds of detergent. Ms. O’Brien was trapped in her car. Crews had to use a crane to lift the truck off the wreck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver was transported to Aria Health’s Torresdale Campus for treatment of minor injuries. The crash is currently under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Man riding Farm Tractor Killed by a Large Truck in Christian County, KY

On April 27, 2016, at approximately 2:17 p.m., Jerry Williams, 43, was driving a farm tractor westbound on U.S. Highway 68 in the right lane. The farm tractor was pulling a trailer loaded with wooden pallets when a large truck also driving westbound struck him from behind.

The truck driver attempted to merge into the left lane when he observed a motorcycle approaching in the left lane, so he had to return to the right lane to avoid hitting the motorcycle. He tried to brake, but was unsuccessful causing him to his hit Mr. Williams from behind.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Chicago Public School Teacher Killed in a Truck Crash in Cook County, IL

On April 30, 2016, at approximately 10:00 a.m., Jeffery Komada, 54, was driving on I-294 when he he came upon a minivan stalled in the middle lane of the highway. He stopped on the Tri-State Tollway to assist a woman with a flat tire. Mr. Komada’s Honda CRV struck the back of the minivan. He had exited the CRV when it was struck from behind by a Volkswagen Tiguan. He was outside of his car when a tractor-trailer crashed into him, the CRV and the Volkswagen.

Mr. Komada was transported to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he succumbed to injuries suffered in the crash.

Police said Saturday that no tickets had been issued and the incident is under investigation. Police did not say whether the mother and her child were injured.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 People Killed in Richland County Truck Wreck

On March 31, 2016 at approximately 4:40 p.m., James Peagler, 80 and his sister, Jonell Peagler Weatherly, 78 were driving a Toyota SUV in South Carolina when they pulled onto U.S. 601 after stopping at the stop sign on Community Road.

A tractor trailer truck traveling south on U.S. 601 collided into the SUV causing the two victims to be trapped in the vehicle. Both victims died at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Bicyclist was Hit and Killed by Tractor-Trailer in Brooklyn, New York

On April 20, 2016, at approximately eight a.m., James Gregg, 33, was riding his bicycle on Sixth Avenue at Sterling Place when he was hit by a tractor-trailer who was driving along the side of him.

Mr. Gregg collided into the rear tire of the 18-wheeler truck and fell under the wheel. James Gregg died at the scene.

According to officials, the truck driver was given a summons for driving an overloaded vehicle. The crash is under investigation by the New York Police Department.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

21 Years Old Woman Died in Middlesex County Truck Crash

On April 3, 2016, in the middle of the afternoon, Jacqueline Sanchez, 21, was driving a Toyota Camry southbound on the New Jersey, Woodbridge Turnpike when she crashed into the back of a disabled tractor trailer truck that was stopped in the right-hand lane. Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene.

New Jersey State Trooper, Lawrence Peebles confirmed that the tractor trailer truck was not pulled over off the road and remained in the far right traveling lane. It is not clear why the truck did not pull off the road entirely.  The truck driver was not injured and the crash is under investigation by the New Jersey State Police.

Trucks with weak underride guards, or none at all, offer little to no protection for motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who can possibly crash into the sides or rear of a truck and trailer. Rear underride guards are required on many trucks and trailers, but the standard is antiquated and ineffective in preventing underride crashes from becoming injurious or fatal. Overall, more than 4,000 people are killed in truck crashes every year in the United States and a portion of the preventable fatal crashes involve underride.

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 in a Tractor Trailer Wreck in Pulaski County, AR

On May 15, 2016, at approximately 11:40 p.m., Willetta Reaves, 40, and Danny Hollis, 51 were traveling eastbound on I-40, when the vehicle was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer. The impact sent the Cadillac into the guardrail and both vehicles overturned. Reaves and Hollis were pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Arkansas State Police.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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 person dead, Two Injured in a Three Vehicle Truck Crash in Windom County, Vermont

On April 26, 2016, at approximately 3:30 p.m., Dean Tkaczyk, 54, was driving northbound on Vermont Route 30 when her vehicle was struck from by behind by a large truck. The impact of the crash caused Ms. Tkaczyk to hit a car driven by Andrea Fields, 48.

Ms. Fields’ passenger, Charlene Higgins, 88, was transported to Brattlebro Memorial Hospital then transferred to Baystate Medical Center where she later died due to her injuries. Ms. Field was transported to Brattlebro Memorial Hospital for treatment of a neck injury. Ms. Tkaczyk was also treated there for her shoulder injury.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is currently under investigation.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

Five People Injured and One dead in a Truck Crash in Lee County, FL

On May 16, 2016, a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer northbound on Summerlin Road in Fort Myers, when traffic ahead of him began to slow. He failed to slow down and crashed into the back of a Lincoln Town Car. The impact started a chain reaction crash involving a total of seven vehicles.

The Town Car burst into flames and the back seat passenger, Kristin Lee, 38, was fatally injured. The driver, James Cwanek, 70, and front seat passenger, Austin Perkins, were transported to Tampa Regional Hospital for treatment of critical injuries.

The driver of the vehicle in front of the Town Car, Brian Crump, 27, and his passenger, Nadine Saint-Vil, 25, were transported to Health Park Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

The next vehicle driven by Robert Ingalls, 84 was also injured. He was also transported to Health Park with serious injuries.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries. The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol. Charges are pending the completion of the investigation.=

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 

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Elderly Woman Injured in Ambulance after Logging Truck Crash in Gulf County, Florida

On April 26, 2016, at approximately 12:00 p.m., a truck driver was driving an unloaded logging truck on eastbound U.S. Highway 98 when he came upon stopped traffic and attempted to stop. The truck jackknifed and pushed the tractor into the westbound lane. The ambulance driving eastbound crashed into the truck.

Doris Chase, 72, who was in the ambulance was rushed to the hospital with critical injuries after the ambulance in which she was riding crashed head-on with the logging truck. Ms. Chase was transported to a Panama City Hospital for treatment.

The truck driver was not injured and was charged with careless driving.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

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One Man Dead after Semi-Truck Crashed into a Motel in El Paso, Texas

On May 6, 2016, at approximately 10:15 a.m., a truck driver was driving a tractor-trailer eastbound on I-10, when he lost control. The tractor-trailer exited the interstate, traveled through a parking lot and a brick wall before crashing into the Studio 6 Hotel. The truck struck Derreset Brown, 51, who was sleeping in a first floor room. Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to La Palmas Medical Center for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the El Paso Police Department.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

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TDOT Employee Killed in Truck Crash, Hickman County, TN

On April 28, 2016, at approximately 9:40 a.m., a worker with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), David Younger, 65, was standing in front of his TDOT vehicle with his co-workers on I-40. Three TDOT vehicles pulled over on the side of the road with their emergency lights activated as they unloaded equipment from one of the vehicles. Mr. Younger was waiting for help to change a flat tire when a tractor-trailer veered off the interstate and struck his vehicle, which then struck him. Mr. Younger was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three TDOT employees were injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The truck driver was also injured. He was also transported for treatment of injuries and has criminal charges pending against him as a result of the crash.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

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Motorcyclist Killed in a Truck Wreck in Wagoner County, OK

On May 3, 2016, at approximately 6:40 a.m., Daniel Childress, 34, was riding his motorcycle eastbound on U.S. Highway 412, when a tractor-trailer pulled into his path as the truck driver attempted to turn onto the highway from 305th East Avenue. The motorcycle crashed into the semi’s fuel tank. Mr. Childress was pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver was not injured. The crash is under investigation by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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

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Five Women Injured in a Truck Crash in Porter County, IN

On May 11, 2016, at approximately 11:50 p.m., a semi-truck driver was driving northbound on highway 49 when he came upon traffic stopped at an intersection. He attempted to avoid striking a vehicle, but struck the back of one, which caused a chain reaction collision.

Four occupants of other vehicles were injured in the crash. They are Ashley Bryan, 23, Cynthia Croft, 53, Alexandra Weiser, 20, Hummad Tasneem, 24, and Hannah Streeter, 19. All five were transported to hospitals for treatment. 

The current federal weight limit for a large interstate truck is 80,000 pounds, but for some states, there are exemptions and permits allowing even heavier trucks to travel on our roadways. Bigger, heavier trucks are more likely to be in a crash, more likely to cause damage to our roads and bridges, and more likely to result in an injury or death.

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