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

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

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.

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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

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.

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Underride Roundtable 2015

The Truck Safety Coalition co-hosted the first ever Underride Roundtable at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safetys testing facility in Ruckersville, VA. The conference brought together researchers, safety advocates, government officials, and industry leaders to discuss truck underride crashes, examine the scope of the problem, and determine how to reduce the risks for passenger vehicle occupants through regulation and voluntary action. A crash test was also conducted to demonstrate improved underride guards.

underride roundtable 2015

“This conference is a critical milestone in the decades-long effort to strengthen underride protections for large trucks to prevent needless injuries and fatalities,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “We hope that today’s discussion will spur swift industry and government action on underride which has long been recognized as a major safety issue.”

John Lannen continued, “Reviewing the research underscored startling data that demonstrate the need for long-overdue action to prevent underride crashes. At this conference, however, we did not stop at identifying the issues. We also worked to identify common ground to create commonsense reforms that have a meaningful impact on safety.”

At the conference, Jennifer Tierney, a board member of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, Senior Vice President of Safety, Security, and Driver Personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. for his outstanding and longtime dedication to improving truck safety.

“I have been advocating for stronger underride guards after my father, James Mooney, was killed in a truck underride crash thirty-three years ago. While many lives would have been saved had there been action following his death, this Underride Roundtable is major step in the right direction” stated Jennifer Tierney. “I look forward to working with government and industry officials as a member of the Underride Initiative at the Truck Safety Coalition to achieve a goal of zero underride crashes.”

Were you unable to attend the Underride Roundtable? View the entire event here: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1100569

Truck Safety Awards – Press Release

Articles on Underride Roundtable

Underride Roundtable Pictures

The roundtable was organized and sponsored by

IIHS, the Truck Safety Coalition and Annaleah & Mary for Truck Safety

TSC Logo

Require Side Underride Guards

Rear/ Side Underride and Front Override Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear, side, and front underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. These crashes can be catastrophic because the car rides under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment sensors; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs. The safety benefits of underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, five 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.

For several years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards, for side underride protection systems, and front underride guards. In addition, NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.

On July 10, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would grant the petition brought by Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and the Karth family to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers. Additionally, NHTSA has started an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks, and will continue to evaluate side and front guards.

Side Underride Crashes:

NHTSA has 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. As the length of a truck increases, so does the size of the blind spot area. These interactions can occur when a truck is turning or making an illegal U-turn, and the cab or trailer obstructs the driver’s view.

Side Underride Crash Test:

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=pZMB2uptVi4[/embedyt]

 

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xxJr_hApYk[/embedyt]

Truck Underride Roundtable

Strengthen Rear Underride Guards

Rear/ Side Underride and Front Override Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear, side, and front underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. These crashes can be catastrophic because the car rides under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment sensors; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs. The safety benefits of underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, five 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.

For several years, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards, for side underride protection systems, and front underride guards. In addition, NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.

On July 10, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it would grant the petition brought by Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) and the Karth family to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for rear underride guards on trailers. Additionally, NHTSA has started an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks, and will continue to evaluate side and front guards.

Rear Underride Crashes:

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.

Rear Underride Crash Tests – IIHS ToughGuard Winners:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Mi9XH2h06c[/embedyt]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZbvnM-6BD8[/embedyt]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHVCWtZjxm4[/embedyt]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HXwCgsFqfA[/embedyt]

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy8P_8J3eiI[/embedyt]

Truck Underride Roundtable

 

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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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