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

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

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.

Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

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

Daughter of James Mooney

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83


Jackie Novak

Edneyville, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10



Omnibus-HOS Letter to Secretary Foxx-Nov 2016

Letter to Senator Reid in Response Carl Pope Letter

August 6, 2015

The Honorable Harry Reid

Minority Leader

United State Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Senator Reid:

Thank you for your longstanding and ongoing leadership on highway and auto safety. We have been made aware of a letter recently sent to you regarding purported environmental and safety impacts of the proposal being advanced by FedEx and a few other trucking and delivery service companies to force states to allow double 33-foot tractor trailer trucks (double 33s) on their roads and highways (Letter from Carl Pope dated July 25, 2015). Unfortunately this letter contains numerous untruths, parrots industry propaganda, and underscores Mr. Pope’s lack of knowledge regarding the safety problems of large trucks, the increased damage to roads and bridges they will inflict, and general freight transportation issues.

Mr. Pope supports consideration of double 33s in place of the current national standard 28-foot trailers, but Mr. Pope’s facts are incomplete or incorrect. Mr. Pope’s letter asserts, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submissions of those who opposed this change that it will impair safety…” showing that he is unaware of the studies that have found that the use of multiple trailers is associated with an 11% higher crash rate compared to single trailer combinations.[1] This statement also completely ignores the recent U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (DOT Study) that concludes there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of double 33s and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.[2]

Furthermore, Mr. Pope writes, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submission of those who oppose this change that it will…increase wear and tear on our roads…” This statement overlooks the fact that the DOT Study stated that an empty double 33-foot trailer weighs 2,362 pounds more than an empty double 28-foot trailer,[3] increasing the overall and axle weights which inflict more damage to bridges and pavement, even when the truck is empty. Allowing longer trucks will also enable them to carry more weight for the same type of freight, further increasing the axle weights and bridge and pavement damage compared to current national standard 28-foot double trailers. Despite the letter’s admonishment that the Senate should allow longer “BUT NO HEAVIER” trucks, Mr. Pope appears astonishingly ignorant of the fact that longer trailers weigh more, and because they can carry more freight, will weigh even more when loaded than 28-foot trailers even if they do not reach the maximum federal weight limit. This obvious contradiction has eluded Mr. Pope.

Moreover, Mr. Pope is apparently not aware that the DOT Study predicted one time bridge costs for strengthening or repair of $1.1 billion for introducing the use of double 33s. This figure does not even include increases in annual costs for maintaining the bridge deck and road surface.[4] The DOT Study estimated that double 33s will inflict a 1.8% to 2.7% increase in the life cycle costs (maintenance) for roads and pavements.[5]

In addition, any theoretical reduction in trucks and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is only temporary.[6] After just one year even more trucks will be on the roads and bridges and many of them will be heavier double 33s which will pound the roads and damage bridges to an even greater extent than double 28s.

The letter continues by stating that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will save substantial amounts of otherwise wasted fuel…” Yet, estimates of the impact of the shift to double 33s on fuel savings are almost entirely derived from estimated reductions in VMT. The total fuel consumption reduction calculated by the recent DOT Study is only 1.1%.[7]  The DOT Study also states clearly that any estimated benefits are so minimal that they would be offset in one year by the forecasted growth in shipments due to the expected annual increase in freight demand.[8] Moreover, the reduction in fuel consumption is only for the trucking sector and ignores the impact of shifting freight from more fuel efficient transportation modes, which in the end could increase overall fuel consumption. Regardless, the reduction in trucking fuel usage represents a pittance in terms of fuel conservation, and would be of little consolation to those highway users who may be killed or maimed as a result of the use of double 33s and who will be subsidizing the higher cost of road and bridge damage inflicted by these oversized trucks.

It should be noted that Mr. Pope’s letter does not address the fact that the industry estimates of VMT savings are wholly unrealistic and are based on a flawed study paid for by FedEx and other trucking industry supporters which assumes that both 28-foot and 33-foot double trailer trucks weigh the same – 80,000 lb.[9] This cannot possibly be true, and contradicts industry arguments that 28-foot doubles do not weigh 80,000 pounds when filled to capacity. In reality, 33-foot double trailer trucks would be heavier both when empty and when full, which undermines the industry’s estimate of theoretical fuel use reduction.

Mr. Pope also asserts, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… reduce the number of trucks on our highways…” Once again, Mr. Pope appears to be blithely ignorant of the fact that increases in truck size and weight have never resulted in fewer trucks. Rather, every time there has been an increase in truck size and weight in the history of America, the result is more, not fewer, registered trucks and trailers.[10] Furthermore, as the DOT study points out, any theoretical reduction in the number of trucks on the road is ephemeral and will be wiped out in one year.[11]

Finally, he states that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… make the trucking sector more efficient – perhaps as much as 16-18% more efficient.” This 16% to 18% increase in efficiency is primarily based on the increased volume capacity of 33-foot trailers compared to 28-foot trailers.[12] Yet, for this theoretical efficiency to be achieved, every shipment must move with perfect efficiency from a 28-foot trailer to a 33-foot trailer. Current inefficiencies in the system, like empty (deadhead) trips, would further cut into this predicted efficiency when heavier and larger double 33-foot trailers travel empty or below capacity, and at the same time waste more fuel during these trips. Moving goods by rail has consistently been shown to be more fuel efficient, with rail fuel efficiency ranging anywhere from two to more than five times the fuel efficiency of trucks.[13] Increasing truck size and likely shifting freight from more fuel efficient modes to trucks could end up increasing overall fuel consumption.

We urge the Senate to require that more information and data are collected on the safety and infrastructure impacts a change in national transportation policy on truck lengths would cause. The “Feinstein-Wicker” amendment would accomplish this critically important step before moving forward with a rulemaking. Considering that truck crash fatalities have been on the rise the last four years (2009-2013), moving commercial motor vehicle safety laws and regulations in an unsafe direction is not sound and could result in even more needless deaths and injuries.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these surface transportation safety issues. We look forward to continuing to work together with you to advance safer roads and highways for our nation’s motorists.


John Lannen, Executive Director

Truck Safety Coalition


Joan Claybrook, Chair

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Jacqueline Gillan, President

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Daphne Izer

Lisbon, ME

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer, Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93


Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety


Andrew McGuire, Executive Director

Trauma Foundation


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


Officer Robert Mills

Fort Worth Texas Police Department

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement


Investigator Wes Bement

Grand Prairie, TX Police Dept.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement


Officer Kevin Cordell

Burleson, TX Police Dept.


Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, FL

Board Member, PATT

Mother of David Mathis

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04


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


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


Laurie and Randall Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14


Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04


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

Mother of Graham Brown

Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05


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


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


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


Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, MN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89


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


Kim Telep

Harrisburg, PA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Bradley Telep

Killed in a truck crash 8/29/12


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


Sandra Lance

Chesterfield, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Kristen Belair

Killed in a truck crash 8/26/09


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


Lisa Shrum

Fayette, MO

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Daughter of Virginia Baker, Step-daughter of Randy Baker

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/06


Henry Steck

Homer, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition



[1] An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight: Phase I – Safety, Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium, November 2013; Memorandum from J. Matthews, Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute, Sep. 29, 2014; The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study: Volume III Scenario Analysis, Chapter VIII: Safety, FHWA-PL-00-029 (Volume III) (August 2000).

[2] DOT Transmittal letters to Congress, June 5, 2015.

[3] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 22, p. 52 (June 2015).

[4] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Bridge Structure Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-7 (June 2015).

[5] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Pavement Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-8 (June 2015).

[6] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[7] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 24, p. 54 (June 2015).

[8] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[9] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., (2011, April 11) Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 19.

[10] Traffic Safety Facts 2013: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System, DOT HS 812 139, Table 9, p. 34, NHTSA (2015).

[11] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[12] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 20. (April 11, 2011)

[13] Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors, Federal Railroad Administration, Nov. 19, 2009.

Media Advisory: Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088

beth_weaver@verizon.net or

Cathy Chase, 571-243-7282


UPDATE: Battle Over Truck Driver Hours of Service Law Reaching Peak

12/5: Sen. Collins Issues Statement Saying U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx’s Letter is “Inaccurate” and “Inflammatory”

12/6: ATA President and CEO Graves Issues Statement Saying Obama Administration Doesn’t Understand the Consequences of Its Rule; Safety Groups Using “Deceptive Tactics”, “Outright Lies”, “Falsehoods” and “Half-Truths”

12/6: Parents Against Tired Truckers Founder Daphne Izer Sends Letter to Sen. Collins Defending Sec. Foxx for Putting Safety First

12/6: Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Chair Joan Claybrook Issues Statement Highlighting Provision Being Pushed Through Without Any Hearings, Safety Reviews or Analysis in Final Hours of Session

12/8: Press Conference

Every Minute and a Half, a Large Truck Crash Occurs

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

Public Will Pay with Their Lives and Wallets if Trucking Industry “Wish List” Becomes Law

WHEN:           Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. EST

WHERE:        U.S. Capitol, House Visitor Center room 215

WHAT:           Congress is Considering a Major Change to Federal Regulations that Will Dramatically Increase the Number of Hours a Semi-Truck Driver is Allowed to Work in a Week from 70 to 82 Hours.  Only 6 months ago comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a horrific crash caused by a fatigued truck driver.  U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter urging Congress to reject this change.

This special interest rider is being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to be included in the overall government funding bill being negotiated before Congress adjourns.  There have been no Congressional hearings and no safety reviews.  Also, there has been no Senate debate or vote on the amendment to strip the anti-safety provision sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and numerous Senators.* Safety groups and truck crash victims sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leaders urging them to stop assaults on truck safety and a letter to Secretary Foxx urging recommendation of a presidential veto if anti-safety provisions are included.

WHO:             U.S. Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME), Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Daphne lost her 17-year-old son Jeff on October 10, 1993, when a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel. Jeff and three of his friends were killed, and another was seriously injured.  She is a recipient of the 2014 White House Champions of Change award.

Ron Wood (Washington, D.C.) On September 20, 2004, Ron’s mother Betsy, sister Lisa and her three children, Chance (age 4), Brock (age 2) and Reid (6 weeks old), were killed near Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic.  The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.


  • Truck driver fatigue and Hours of Service compliance has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
  • Adoption of Sen. Collins’ provision will revert the HOS rule to the one in effect when a 2006 survey of truck drivers found an alarming 65% of truck drivers reported they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep while driving in the previous year.(Truck Driver Fatigue Management Survey, FMCSA, 2006).
  • Truck crashes are on the rise.  From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by a staggering 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 people injured in 2012.  During this same period, truck crash fatalities increased three years in a row, a cumulative 16 percent increase, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes result in a cost of $99 Billion to the U.S. every year.
  • The current Hours of Service rule issued by U.S. DOT took effect last year after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and trucking industry associations; 6 public listening sessions and an online Q&A forum; review of 80 sources of scientific research and data; a Regulatory Impact Analysis of nearly 50 scientific sources.
  • The current rule allows truckers to take a short rest period of just 34 hours off-duty before beginning a new work week, which can include up to 60 or 70 hours of driving. The “Collins amendment” will suspend the safety requirements that prevent drivers from taking back-to-back short rest periods after long weeks, and require two periods of rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., dramatically increasing allowable driving hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week.

*Sponsors of “Booker Amendment” to retain current 34-Hour Restart Provision: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).


The New York Times on Issuing a Long Overdue Rule for Entry Level Truck Driver Training

On October 4, 2014, The New York Times published an editorial in support of ending the delays in issuing the long overdue “common-sense training standards for truck drivers.”

The editorial cites the large number of deaths that involve large trucks, approximately 4,000 people each year, for the urgency of issuing a rule for truck driver training.

A disproportionate number of highway fatalities involve large trucks, yet current federal standards are grievously lax. To get a commercial license to operate a big rig, drivers are only required to receive 10 hours of classroom lectures, pass a written test and take a brief road test. While some also receive hours of supervised behind-the-wheel training, many do not.

Last month, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, along with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, filed a lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Court to order Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, to issue minimum entry-level training requirements. If the lawsuit is successful, rulemaking should occur within 60 days of the Court’s order and a final rule should occur 120 days thereafter. Although, as the editorial states,

It should not require a court order to persuade Mr. Foxx to do what should have been done more than 20 years ago.

Safety Advocates, Teamsters Sue U.S. DOT for Failing to Issue Long-Overdue Truck Driver Training Requirements

For Immediate Release:

Sept. 18, 2014


Karilyn Gower (202) 588-7779

Beth Weaver (301) 814-4088

Safety Advocates, Teamsters Sue U.S. DOT for Failing to Issue Long-Overdue Truck Driver Training Requirements

20 Years, Two Lawsuits and Two Congressional Mandates Later, Inexperienced Truck Drivers Still Hit the Road With No Behind-the-Wheel Training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal appellate court should order the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to issue a long-overdue rule outlining training standards for entry-level truck drivers, safety advocates and a union told the court in a lawsuit filed today.

Congress initially told the agency to finish a rulemaking process on driver training by 1993, but the agency still has not done so.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the DOT and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency charged with issuing the rule. Public Citizen is representing the groups.

“People are dying needlessly while the agency drags its feet,” said Henry Jasny, senior vice president and general counsel with Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “New truck drivers need to be properly trained before they get behind the wheel. This is a dereliction of the agency’s duty.”

“Enough is enough,” said Adina Rosenbaum, attorney for Public Citizen. “Twenty years, two lawsuits and two congressional mandates have not been successful at prodding the DOT into issuing the entry-level driver training rule. The court should step in and order the agency to act.”

There are 3.9 million commercial motor vehicle drivers in the U.S. with commercial driver’s licenses, and new drivers get on the roads daily. Drivers need only receive 10 hours of classroom lectures and pass a test to get their commercial driver’s license to drive a truck.

Large trucks that can weigh up to 40 tons when fully loaded are more complicated to operate than automobiles. Inexperienced truck drivers have higher crash rates and should have hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel training before they are allowed on the highways.

Approximately 4,000 people die and nearly 100,000 more are injured annually in truck crashes, according to government data. Large truck crash fatalities increased by 4 percent in 2012. This follows a 2 percent increase in 2011 and a 9 percent increase in 2010, despite a decline in overall motor vehicle deaths. Further, there was an 18 percent increase in 2012 of those injured in large truck crashes. The annual cost to society from large truck crashes is estimated to be more than $99 billion.

Dorothy Wert’s husband, David Wert, Sr., was killed in 2011 in a truck crash caused by an inexperienced truck driver who left his broken-down truck parked in the middle of a dark Pennsylvania highway at 3 a.m. with no lights on and no warning signals or flares. After the crash, David, a truck driver with 35 years of experience, managed to drive his truck safely onto the side of the road in spite of suffering fatal injuries.

“We have waited far too long for a requirement to ensure that truck drivers know what they are doing and have been tested before we allow them behind the wheel of an 80,000 pound truck,” said Wert, a CRASH volunteer advocate who lives in Montrose, Pa. “Truck drivers should not be allowed to drive without a required understanding of the regulations and a minimum number of training hours behind the wheel. I know that my husband would be alive today if the driver that caused Dave’s crash had been better trained, had more experience and had taken the proper precautions.”

“Proper training is absolutely necessary for new drivers to operate their rigs safely,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. “The agency is shirking its responsibility by not issuing this long-overdue rule.”

The path to the rule has been long. In 1991, concerned about truck crashes, Congress passed a law requiring the DOT to complete a rulemaking by 1993 on the need to require training of entry-level commercial motor vehicle operators.

In 2002, when no rule had been issued, safety advocates went to court to force the agency to act. The DOT agreed to issue the rule by 2004. While it did issue a rule that year, the rule was grossly inadequate, requiring only 10 hours of classroom lectures, none of it on-the-road training. That is the rule that is still on the books.

Safety advocates returned to court, and in 2005, the court ruled that FMCSA had disregarded volumes of evidence that on-street training enhances safety. In 2007, the DOT issued another proposed rule, but the agency never finished it.

In 2012, Congress passed a second law (the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” also known as MAP-21) requiring the DOT to issue the entry-level training rule, this time by Oct. 1, 2013. Congress specified that the rule had to include behind-the-wheel training.

During the next year, FMCSA held listening sessions. Then, on Sept. 19, 2013, it withdrew the 2007 proposed rule that had been in limbo and said it was going back to the drawing board. On Aug. 19, 2014, FMCSA published a notice indicating it had not begun work on the new rule and did not intend to anytime soon. Instead, it said that it was exploring conducting a negotiated rulemaking, and that it had hired a “neutral convener” who would interview all concerned parties, balance all the interests and issue a report before the agency decided what type of rulemaking to undertake. No timetable was given for completion of the rule.

“The FMCSA’s inaction to release a new notice of proposed rulemaking for entry-level driver training is perpetuating a hazard for everyone on our roadways by permitting inexperienced drivers to interact with the unknowing public,” said John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between CRASH and Parents Against Tired Truckers. “This hazard will only grow in scope as the turnover rate for truck drivers continues to remain extremely high – over 90 percent – and the current truck driver work force ages out.”

Read the lawsuit here.



A Letter from Safety Groups Urging Senators to Support the Booker Amendment to Stop Tired Trucking

Dear Senator,

We are united in writing you to support the Booker Amendment to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) FY 2015 Appropriations bill.  This commonsense amendment will prevent an increase in weekly work hours for truck drivers, and will reduce truck driver fatigue by striking language inserted into the bill at committee markup (Collins Amendment) that weakens the hours of service (HOS) rule.

The Collins Amendment returns to the old restart, which was struck down by the Courts, where half of the truck drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel and 65% said they were drowsy. 

 Truck Drivers Need to Sleep in Their Beds and Not Behind the Wheel of an 80,000 lb. Rig.

Compelling editorials sum it up:

 USA Today: “The full Senate and House ought to have enough sense to leave it [the current rule] alone.

The Virginian Pilot: “The effect of the Senate bill would undoubtedly be more truckers on American highways with less rest. Another year with 4,000 people killed in large truck crashes.”

New York Times: “The trucking industry makes the disingenuous claim that the rule, which has been in effect since July 2013, “exacerbates congestion” and could make highways less safe by forcing more truck drivers onto the roads during morning rush hours. The rule requires that the break include two consecutive nights, but it says nothing about what time drivers must go back to work. If anything, the rule is too weak.”

The Boston Globe: “All motorists should hope the new rules go into effect, and keep tired truckers off the road.”

Baltimore Sun Editorial: “[P]rospect of putting more such [fatigued] drivers on the road ought to motivate the House and Senate to strike down this dangerous amendment…”

Lehigh Valley Live: “Don’t delay tougher truck-safety rules.”

The Record (North Jersey): ”There’s no need to loosen the cap. Overly tired truck drivers don’t belong on the road.”

Star Ledger: “Efforts to overturn federal sleep rules should be reversed, with more emphasis instead on technology and enforcement to ensure they’re followed. . . The company [Walmart], whose drivers covered 667 million miles last year, and the entire trucking industry should work to preserve, not overturn, rules that make the highways safer.”

Portland Press Herald: “But truckers falling asleep at the wheel is such a well-documented killer that we would rather see other strategies to reduce traffic congestion tried before this one. . . There must be a way to reduce rush-hour traffic that doesn’t put more tired truckers on the road.”

Lehigh Valley Live: “Lawmakers need to use common sense, defeat this amendment [the Collins amendment] and allow stricter truck-safety measures that protect all of the motoring public to take effect.”

 Don’t Turn Back the Clock on Driver Fatigue with the Collins Amendment

 We urge you to uphold ongoing efforts to reduce truck driver fatigue

 Support the Booker Amendment


 Truck Safety Coalition

 Parents Against Tired Truckers

 Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways

 Road Safe America

 John Lindsay Foundation



One CRASH Board Member’s thoughts on the Deadly Orland Crash

On Thursday evening, a FedEx truck crashed head on into a bus carrying prospective college students. Ten are dead and dozens more are injured from this tragic crash.

Dawn King, CRASH board member, had this to say,

The news media is slow to mention that it all started with a semi crossing the center median.   That’s not the most news worthy aspect of this crash so it’s getting little press.  Rightfully we need to concentrate on the families of those killed and injured, on the students who were headed toward bright futures as college students who will never see another day, on the survivors who are traumatized, and on the drivers, both of the truck and the bus who were also killed.  But when things calm down we need to take a serious look at why that semi crossed the median in the first place.

Please read the rest of Dawn’s thoughtful post on her page.

Links – Sorrow to Strength 2007


Useful links for those attending the conference or otherwise supporting it.

Identify & Contact Your Elected Officials

Contact the U.S. Senate

Contact the U.S. House of Representatives


Know the Issues

Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Department of Transportation (DoT)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Maps of D.C. and Capitol Hill



Hyatt Arlington
Details on reservations coming soon.


Ronald Reagan National Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro & Bus Transportation)

Press Kit – Sorrow to Strength 2007


March 12, 2007 – Press Kit

Sorrow to Strength 2009 – Press

Press Coverage

Press Conference – Media Information


    (Seattle, Washington), widow of University of Washington professor and seismologist Anthony Qamar who was killed October 5, 2005, along with his colleague, when an overloaded logging truck with multiple safety citations lost its load on Highway 101.  The tragedy prompted Dr. Ellsbury to lobby for passage of the Tony Qamar and Daniel Johnson Act to improve motor carrier safety in her state.
    (Davisburg, Michigan), whose father, William Badger, was killed December 23, 2004, when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with his car.  Dawn has since joined the Board of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and has participated in its First Response program to assist other grieving truck crash victims.
    (Falls Church, Virginia), whose daughter Dana Wood and her East Carolina University classmate were killed October 15, 2002, when their car was struck and pushed 1,500 feet by a careless trucker with a suspended license who had clocked nine hours of driving that day.
    (Laurel, Maryland), mother of University of Maryland senior Channing Quinichett who was killed January 21, 2009, when a tire flew off a truck being towed and smashed through her windshield.   Channing was to receive her early childhood education degree from the state university on May 22.  She wanted to be a teacher.

Sorrow to Strength 2009

The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to announce our 2009 Sorrow to Strength Conference.

Sorrow to Strength is specifically designed for survivors of truck crashes and families/friends of those who have died or been injured. The conference allows us to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, workshops and public policy actions to advance truck safety. This conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical professionals interested in advancing truck safety.

The last Sorrow to Strength Conference in 2007 produced an agenda of important truck safety priorities. It also included visits arranged by TSC staff with key lawmakers in Congress, senior officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and National Transportation Safety Board Members. Additionally, we released a report card on the most lethal states for truck crashes and on the lack of federal leadership by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 10 key categories such as truck driver fatigue, truck size and weight, and safety regulation enforcement, at a well-attended press conference in Washington, DC.

This year’s conference comes at a critical crossroads in truck safety as Congress will soon be taking up a multi-billion dollar transportation spending bill, the successor to the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Trucking interests have been lobbying Congress to increase the federal truck size and weight limits while also continuing to push for other measures to rollback lifesaving truck safety rules and laws. We need your help and voice in the truck safety debate to counter the views of the trucking industry.

Saturday, May 2nd (tentative start time 1 p.m.) – Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Hyatt Arlington, 1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
For reservations, please call the hotel directly at 800-233-1234 or go to http://arlington.hyatt.com.

The rate for all nights is $99 per room per night (tax not included). The code you need to mention to get this rate is G-TSC1. There is no fee for the conference itself. Need-based scholarship funding is available to assist with travel costs.

This conference will be organized to discuss both personal experiences and how to work as a powerful, effective constituency. Throughout Sorrow to Strength, you will have the opportunity to meet with safety experts, elected officials, and safety supporters. You play an important role in the fight to improve truck safety and bring down truck crash deaths and injuries. Please, join us for this importantmeeting.

For more information or to answer any questions about Sorrow to Strength, please contact us here or at 1.888.353.4572.

We hope to see you in May!

Sorrow to Strength

2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference

We are pleased to announce the 2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference. The conference will be held in Washington, DC from Saturday, April 30th to Tuesday, May 3rd.

This conference is designed to bring together families and friends of truck crash victims and truck crash survivors.   There is no charge, and the conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical/other related professionals interested in truck safety.  The conference provides the opportunity to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, and workshops. On Monday and Tuesday we will bring our messages for improved truck safety policies and laws to Capitol Hill and the Department of Transportation during meetings which will be pre-arranged for you and attended by a Truck Safety Coalition staff person with you.

If you are interested in attending, please call the office at 888.353.4572 or 703.294.6404.  You can also email us at info@trucksafety.org. More information will be posted at www.trucksafety.org in the near future.  Please forward this message along to anyone you believe may be interested.

Please mark these dates on your calendar and start thinking about your arrangements to attend. As soon as you have decided if you will be attending, please let us know so that we can begin lining up meetings for you. We look forward to helping you with this process and especially to seeing you there.

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Maine and Vermont Overweight Truck Pilot Program

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Press Conference Speakers – Sorrow to Strength 2007

Press Conference Speakers
March 12, 2007

  • John Lannen, Executive Director, The Truck Safety Coalition
  • Jackie Gillan, Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; CRASH board member.
  • Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen; Chair, Citizens for Reliable & Safe Highways (CRASH)
  • Daphne Izer, of Lisbon, Maine, who founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) after her son Jeff, 17, and three of his friends were killed October 10, 1993, by a tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • Nikki Hensley of Fostoria, Ohio, whose husband Virgil Lee Hensley was killed July 9, 1997, when a semi-truck driver, who was working for 19 hours straight, ran a stop sign and struck the side of their car, killing her husband instantly.  The truck driver walked away without any punishment when the Wood County Prosecutor dropped the case.  Nikki was left to raise their two sons who are now in college, and she is now a P.A.T.T. board member.
  • Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, Florida, whose son David and bride of five days, Mary, were driving home from their honeymoon on March 25, 2004, on I-95 near the Kennedy Space Center when they were killed in a fiery crash caused by a Winn-Dixie tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.  The truck driver was never prosecuted.  David also was the son of Circuit Court Judge Robert Mathis.
  • Rob and Sherry Durk of Linden, Michigan, whose daughter Janelle Ann Marie Durk, 15, was killed July 6, 2006, in a crash caused by two semi tractor trailer drivers on I-70 in Clark County, IL.  One trucker was driving for 20 hours straight and crashed after falling asleep, which caused a traffic backup. The Durks stopped safely, but another semi hit them from behind, killing their teen daughter.  They were driving home to Michigan from a family reunion in Kansas.
  • Truck crash victims from around the nation will be in attendance, including FL, IL, KY, ME, MD, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, VA, and TX.

Truck Crash Target Change – Sorrow to Strength 2007