Group Letter to Congress on Automatic Emergency Braking and Speed Limiters

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

Group Letter to Congress on Automatic Emergency Braking and Speed Limiters

January 29, 2019

Dear Representative:

Imagine if there were solutions that could help save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries each year resulting from large truck crashes on America’s highways.

There are.

Our large and growing coalition writes to inform you about two solutions to highway crashes and deaths involving large trucks: Heavy vehicle speed limiters and automatic emergency braking (AEB).

As you may be aware, recently released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that truck crashes, and the resulting injuries and deaths, continue to increase year after year despite the fact that total truck vehicle miles traveled has effectively remained stagnant since 2009.

Yet, these dire trends are not irreversible. Proven solutions, like speed limiters and automatic emergency braking, are available today but their use is still not required by law.

SURVEY SHOWS AMERICANS STRONGLY SUPPORT TRUCK SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

A national survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates in September of 2018 shows strong support across all political, geographic and demographic groups for Congressional action requiring the use of speed limiting and automatic braking technologies in large trucks in the United States.

When voters were asked whether they favor or oppose Congress requiring large trucks to have their speed limiters set at a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour:

  • 79% said they favor this requirement,
  • 45% strongly favor it,
  • Only 13% oppose it.

When voters were asked whether they favor or oppose Congress requiring large trucks to use AEB:

  • 82% of voters favor AEB,
  • 50% strongly favor it,
  • Just 9% oppose it.

THE FACTS SUPPORT ACTION

Recently released results from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) confirm that truck safety in the United States has drastically declined from 2009 to 2017 (the most recent year of available data):

  • Truck crash fatalities increased by 41 percent nationally from 2009-2017, with 44 states experiencing increases in truck crash deaths during this period,
  • The number of children (ages 14 and younger) killed in large truck crashes rose by 20 percent,
  • The number of truck occupants killed rose by 69 percent, resulting in the highest number of large truck occupants killed since 1989,
  • Crashes in which a large truck rear-ended a passenger vehicle increased by 82 percent from 2009 to 2016 (the most recent year of available data for this crash subset),
  • 30 percent of all fatal work zone crashes involved at least one large truck in 2017.

These statistics paint a grim picture: truck safety is getting worse across the board. As lawmakers, you cannot allow another year to pass and even more people to die or be injured in large truck crashes without taking action. These folks are not just statistics nor are they just your constituents; they are our mothers, fathers, siblings, children, and members of the community who should be able to safely share the road with large trucks.

OTHER COUNTRIES REQUIRE THESE LIFE-SAVING TECHNOLOGIES ON LARGE TRUCKS TO GREAT EFFECT

Dozens of other leading countries, like Japan, Australia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, have required the use of these technologies because they determined doing so would make them safer. In fact, many of those countries have experienced reductions in the number of annual truck crash fatalities and not one has reversed their decision.

The European Union (EU), for example, requires large trucks to be equipped with and use both speed limiters (since 1992) and AEB (since 2012). And unlike our country, the EU has seen truck safety improve. From 2009 to 2016, the last year of comparable data, the European Union experienced a 20 percent decrease in the number truck crash deaths, while U.S. truck crash fatalities shot up 29 percent.

THERE IS AMPLE RESEARCH SUPPORTING THE SAFE, SUCCESSFUL USE OF THESE TECHNOLOGIES

Speed limiters have been standard in most heavy commercial trucks since the mid-1990s, and numerous analyses have found them to be quite effective. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s own road-based study found that trucks not using their speed limiters had a significantly higher highway-speed crash rate (approximately 200%) compared to trucks using speed limiters. A more recent study from the Province of Ontario found that the incidence of heavy trucks’ speeding leading to a highway crash dropped 73 percent following implementation of the province’s speed limiter rule at 65 mph in 2009. They also had a 24% drop in fatalities in all heavy truck-involved collisions. Additionally, 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 at all.

With regards to automatic emergency braking, NHTSA estimates that current generation AEB systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year. The agency also found that 166 people will unnecessarily die, and another 8,000 individuals will suffer serious injuries every year a full implementation of AEB is delayed.

The data from trucking companies corroborates these findings. 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, and another major motor carrier 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. Likewise, a third company saw a 71 percent reduction in rear-end collisions and a 63 percent decrease in unsafe following behaviors in their trucks equipped with AEB as well as electronic stability control and lane departure warning compared to their trucks without these safety systems.

We urge you to reflect on the rising number of truck crash deaths and recognize that it is time to require the use of sensible, existing safety solutions. The EU mandated both of these technologies years ago and now experiences fewer truck crash fatalities than the United States. Congress should not stand by silently as proven solutions for improving truck safety are readily available yet inexplicably not yet required in our country.

We look forward to working with you to pass life-saving legislation that will require all big-rig trucks to use speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.

Sincerely,

Steve Owings, Co-Founder

Road Safe America

 

Harry Adler, Executive Director

Truck Safety Coalition

 

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director

National Consumers League

 

Caron Whitaker, Director, Bike Walk Action

The League of American Bicyclists

 

Marco Conner, Co-Deputy Director

Transportation Alternatives

 

Elliott Caldwell, Executive Director

Georgia Bikes

 

Melissa Wandall, President

National Coalition for Safer Roads

 

Daphne Izer

Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

President, Truck Safety Coalition

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

 

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

 

Santiago Calderon

Arcata, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 4/10/14

 

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

 

 

 

Michelle Lemus

Los Angeles, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 4/10/14

 

Linda Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Board Member, PATT

Mother of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Larry Liberatore

Severn, MD

Board Member, PATT

Father of Nick Liberatore

Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

 

Vickie Johnson

Hartwell, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Curt Johnson, Step-mother of Crystal Johnson

Killed in a truck crash 10/1/2009

 

Beth Badger

Columbus, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Vincent Laubach

Reno, NV

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Truck Crash Survivor

 

Paul Badger

Davidson, NC

Son of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Gary Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

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

 

Debra Cruz

Harlingen, TX

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 8/8/2008

 

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

 

Kathleen Laubach

Reno, NV

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Truck Crash Survivor

 

Bruce King

Davisburg, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son-in-law of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Laurie Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Kim Telep

Harrisburg, PA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Bradley Telep

Killed in a truck crash 8/29/12

Catherine Chase, President

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

 

Jason Levine, Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

 

Janette Fennell, Founder and President

KidsAndCars.org

 

Gary Smith, President

Child Injury Prevention Alliance

 

Sally Flocks, President & CEO

Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS)

 

Wanda Lindsay, Founder

The John Lindsay Foundation

 

Jennifer Tierney, Board Member

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation

 

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

 

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

 

Amy Fletcher

Perrysburg, OH

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of John Fletcher

Killed in a truck crash 1/24/12

 

Kate Brown

Gurnee, IL

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Graham Brown

Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

 

Christina Mahaney

Jackman, ME

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/2011

Mother of Liam Mahaney

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/2011

 

Steve Izer

Lisbon, ME

Board Member, PATT

Father of Jeff Izer

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

Sandra Lance

Chesterfield, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Kristen Belair

Killed in a truck crash 8/26/2009

 

Bernadette Fox

Davis, CA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Best friend of Daniel McGuire

Killed in a truck crash 7/10/2014

 

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

 

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, MN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

 

Frank Wood

Falls Church, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Dana Wood

Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

 

Morgan Lake

Sunderland, MD

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/13

 

Ashley McMillan

Memphis,TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Girlfriend of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Michelle Novak

Delevan, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Aunt of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

Jackie Novak

Hendersonville, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

 

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, MD

Board Member, PATT

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Husband of Susan Slattery

Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10

Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured

 

Marc Johnson

Hartwell, GA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Brother of Curt Johnson

Killed in truck crash 10/1/2009

 

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

 

Randall Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

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