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Letter to Senate on Anti-Truck Safety Measures

May 21, 2015

Dear Senator:

Within the last 48 hours, seven people were killed in two fiery truck crashes involving a FedEx double-trailer truck in Kentucky, and a possible tired truck driver in Georgia. We urge you to look at these crash photos and think about what the victims’ families are going through as you deliberate on the transportation funding bill.

http://www.wkyt.com/wymt/home/headlines/I-75-South-in-Rockcastle-County-shut-down-due-to-tractor-trailer-crash-304281461.html

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/5-dead-another-crash-interstate-near-savannah/nmKhF/

These crashes are a precursor to the Memorial Day weekend kickoff of the beginning of summer in the United States. It is a time of family fun and also a time of increased travel on our roads and highways. However for our families, summer vacations and road trips will never be the same because of a void in our lives. All of us have shared the tragedy of having a daughter, a son, a mother, a father, a niece, a nephew or a friend needlessly killed in a truck crash.

Unfortunately, it is expected that approximately 1,300 people will be killed and an additional 30,000 will be injured in large truck crashes over the summer months of June, July and August. Truck crash deaths and injuries have been steadily and significantly rising since 2009, even as overall motor vehicle deaths have declined. We are writing to urge you to work with us and support our efforts to advance truck safety, and not condemn families like ours to the emotional and economic toll of truck crashes that will surely increase if the anti-safety riders in the House version of the FY2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) bill become law.

These anti-safety “riders,” for corporate trucking interests are nothing more than an assault on the safety of our families and truck drivers. We urge you to oppose including any of these provisions in the Senate THUD bill.

June 7th will mark the one year anniversary of the tragic crash that seriously injured actor/comedian Tracy Morgan and killed his friend James McNair, which was caused by a Walmart truck driver who dozed off behind the wheel.  Shortly thereafter, Congress responded by enacting a measure sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) dramatically increasing the working and driving hours of truck drivers. Truck driver fatigue continues to be a major problem in the trucking industry and will not be solved by allowing truck drivers to work as many as 82 hours a week and taking away their two nights off to rest. We urge you to let the Hours of Service study, required by the Collins Amendment enacted last year, to be completed and to consider its findings before taking further action.

On April 17, 2014, a large FedEx truck pulling two 28-foot trailers crashed into a motorcoach carrying students to visit Humboldt State University in Northern California killing 10 people, including five students and injuring many more. Now, Congress is responding by considering a giveaway to FedEx and others that will preempt states and force longer and heavier FedEx trucks on our local streets and highways. Under the FedEx rider a double trailer truck pulling two 33-foot trailers will be at least 84 feet long and exceed the size of an eight story office building. A triple-trailer truck will be over 110-feet long and more than twice the length of a 53-foot single-trailer truck on the road today. Allowing even longer trucks will compound the problem, resulting in more crashes, deaths and injuries, and costing more in terms of highway congestion and crash-related cleanup costs after an accident has taken place.

Furthermore, minimum levels of insurance for motor carriers have not been increased in 35 years and are woefully insufficient. Yet, some segments of the trucking industry seek to block funding for the ongoing public rulemaking process to review minimum insurance requirements for truck carriers and passenger-carrying motorcoach companies. When a serious crash occurs, the underinsured segments of the motor carrier industry force families like ours to shoulder the economic burden and subsidize unsafe practices using our personal savings or with taxpayer-supported programs such as Medicaid and Social Security.

Lastly, “earmarks” for certain states or roads to evade federal limits on truck size and weight destroy the fabric of our nation’s interstate system and degrades our highways and bridges. Giving one state a deadly “hall pass” encourages others to get in line and demand theirs as well.

Public opinion supports the views of our families. Numerous polls show that large majorities, regardless of age, sex, political affiliation, income level, or state of residence, do not want to share the road with bigger and heavier trucks and do not support increasing the working and driving hours of truckers. We strongly urge you to please put public safety ahead of trucking industry profits and reject these anti-truck safety provisions.

Steve and Susan Owings
Atlanta, GA
Co-founders of Road Safe America
Steve is current member of MCSAC
and its immediate-past Chairman
Parents of S. Cullum Owings
Killed in a truck crash 12/1/2002

Daphne Izer
Lisbon, ME
Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)
Mother of Jeff Izer
Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

Tami Friedrich Trakh
Corona, CA
Board Member, CRASH
Member, MCSAC
Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker & Anthony Mercurio
Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

Roy Crawford
Whiteburg, KY
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Father of Guy Champy Crawford
Killed in a truck crash 1/12/94

Jennifer Tierney
Kernersville, NC
Board Member, CRASH
Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)
Daughter of James Mooney
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

Larry Liberatore
Severn, MD
Board Member, PATT
Father of Nick Liberatore
Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

Linda Wilburn
Weatherford, OK
Board Member, PATT
Mother of Orbie Wilburn
Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

Jane Mathis
St. Augustine, FL
Board Member, PATT
Member, MCSAC
Mother of David Mathis
Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis
Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

Ed Slattery
Lutherville, MD
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Husband of Susan Slattery
Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10
Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured

Kate Brown
Gurnee, IL
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Member, Illinois State Freight Advisory Committee
Mother of Graham Brown
Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

Dawn King
Davisburg, MI
Board Member, CRASH
Daughter of Bill Badger
Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

Marianne and Jerry Karth
Rocky Mount, NC
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of AnnaLeah and Mary Karth
Killed in a truck crash 5/4/13

Frank and Marchelle Wood
Falls Church, VA
Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition
Parents of Dana Wood
Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

Nancy Meuleners
Bloomington, MN
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

Jackie Novak
Edneyville, NC
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak
Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

Bruce King
Davisburg, MI
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son-in-law of Bill Badger
Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

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

Gary Wilburn
Weatherford, OK
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Father of Orbie Wilburn
Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

Melissa Gouge
Washington, D.C.
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Cousin of Amy Corbin
Killed in a truck crash 8/18/97

Scott Harper
Belmont, MA
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Son of Mimi Harper
Killed in a truck crash 9/20/11

Grace Prince
Sandersville, GA
Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition
Mother of Rita Rose
Killed in a truck crash 4/12/10

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