Florida Volunteers Pay a Visit to the Offices of Members of Congress

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

Florida Volunteers Pay a Visit to the Offices of Members of Congress

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, our Florida volunteers, Jane Mathis (St. Augustine, FL) and Tracy Quinichett (Orlando, FL), visited the Florida offices of Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Corrine Brown. Jane and Tracy are both mothers who lost a son and daughter, respectively, in preventable truck crashes. At the meetings, the two women shared stories of their loss and spoke about critical truck safety issues, including the dangers of increasing truck size and weight limits, the importance of equipping trucks with improved rear and front and side underride guards, and increasing minimum insurance—which has not been done in 30 years. We look forward to continuing to work with these offices in the future.

Many thanks to our volunteers for their efforts to improve truck safety.

 

The TSC Responds to the Passing of Senator Lautenberg

THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION AND OUR VOLUNTEERS RESPOND

TO THE PASSING OF U.S. SENATOR FRANK R. LAUTENBERG

Senator Lautenberg Was a Truck Safety Champion

Arlington, VA (June 3, 2013): On behalf of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and our volunteers, we were deeply saddened by the passing of Senator Lautenberg, and would like to express our sympathies to his family, friends, staff members and to the citizens of New Jersey. Senator Lautenberg fought relentlessly for truck safety improvements in order to protect all of our families, as well as truck drivers. Our volunteers have had the honor of meeting and working with Senator Lautenberg on numerous truck safety issues over the course of his long Senate career. The truck safety advances he championed will ensure lifesaving protections for years to follow.

Daphne Izer, founder of PATT after her son Jeff and three of his friends were killed in a truck crash, stated, “To the families who suffered injuries or lost loved ones in a truck crash, today marks the loss of a true hero. Senator Lautenberg understood the dangers of bigger, heavier trucks and sponsored lifesaving legislation including the Safe Highways and Infrastructure Preservation Act. The price paid by our families in injuries, loss and heartache must end. We hope Senator Lautenberg’s tremendous example will inspire Members of Congress to continue his extraordinary work.”

“Senator Lautenberg’s truck safety legacy is beyond measure. We will never know exactly how many lives he saved and how many injuries he prevented through his focus, advocacy and legislative leadership to improve truck safety. The truck safety requirements he helped shepherd in MAP – 21 are but one example of his commitment to protecting our families. I always found him focused on me when I spoke, sincerely concerned about my family, and wanting so urgently to fix the truck safety problems which brought me to his office. I know that I am not alone in saying I will miss him.” Dawn King, Board Member, CRASH, after losing her father Bill Badger in a Georgia truck crash caused when the truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel.

Jane Mathis, Board Member for PATT, after her son David and his wife of five days, Mary Kathryn, were killed by a fatigued truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel, added, “Senator Lautenberg recognized the dangers to our families and to truck drivers caused by truck driver fatigue, and was an early proponent of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to enforce hours of service rules and to keep people safe. Last year’s requirement for ELDs in MAP-21 was a tremendous victory for safety. My fellow truck safety advocates and I eagerly await FMCSA’s final rule for ELDs, and express our gratitude for Senator Lautenberg’s tremendous contribution to reducing truck driver fatigue.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes, providing compassionate support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims, and educating the public, policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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My Word: Bill could help stop deadly crashes

Truck Safety Coalition Florida Volunteer Coordinator, Jane Mathis and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety Volunteer, Jim Portell team together to promote vital roadway safety through support of MAP-21’s safety provisions.  To read their article, click here.

Jane Mathis Fights for Truck Safety; St. Augustine Record

Tragedy propels local woman to fight increased truck weight allowances

Jane Mathis lost son, daughter-in-law in 2004 crash

Posted: February 5, 2012 – 12:51am

 

By George Bortle. The Associated Press

David and Mary Mathis were killed on the way back from their honeymoon, on March 25, 2004, after their car was hit from behind by a semi-truck, causing a chain reaction with another truck on I-95 near Titusville.

By JENNIFER EDWARDS

jennifer.edwards@staugustine.com

 

David Mathis was a jokester with a mischievous smile, an intern with a local law firm and a man married just five days when a truck rolled over his 1993 Acura, killing him and his bride, Mary Kathryn Forbes.

Both 23, they had graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and had just bought a house in Royal St. Augustine, said Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, David’s mother.

It was that March, 2004, crash on Interstate 95, caused when a semi-trailer truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel, that prompted Mathis to fight for legislative changes.

“Most loved ones can’t (become activists),” Mathis said. “It’s too painful; they just can’t.”

Most recently, she traveled to the U.S. Capitol to lobby against a House bill that would have allowed trucks to get bigger and heavier and, to Mathis and other safety advocates, that much more dangerous.

The committee Friday morning amended the bill in what a representative for U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Transportation committee, called an “intense markup session” that lasted until 3:30 a.m.

Now the 700-page omnibus bill, called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, no longer would allow states to increase the weight cap.

Mica said the language disappeared mostly due to rail interests, not safety advocates.

“The freight train operators, if you have heavier weights, they don’t get the business to go on rail,” Mica said.

The amendment also calls for a study to examine how the increased caps would impact safety and infrastructure.

But Mathis still worries that the bill could change again, especially since it is very different from the Senate version, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP21 for short.

The House is to vote on the bill during the week of Feb. 13, said Justin Harclerode, a spokesman for Mica.

Activism as an outlet

It took Mathis a couple of years to heal before she began looking for ways to make a difference.

Then, a friend suggested she join PATT, Parents Against Tired Trucking.

Now, she is a board member of the national Parents Against Tired Trucking and a part of the Truck Safety Coalition.

“It’s a club nobody wants to belong to,” she said.

In the past, she has lobbied for an increase in fines for those driving rigs overweight by 10,000 or more pounds and for those falsifying the paper log books that truckers must keep to show they are not driving more hours per day than allowed.

The fines haven’t increased since 1953, “When Eisenhower was in office,” she said.

That went nowhere.

But still, she keeps trying because David Mathis is always on her mind.

“I miss him every hour of every day,” she said.

She misses his 6-foot-1-inch frame bouncing on her bed and saying, “Hi, Mommy!”

And she likes to remember a particular sermon he gave to the youth at church.

“He was talking about how you should do things to show you have joie de vivre,” Mathis said.

“So he crowed like a chicken in the pulpit, and there was a giant burst of laughter,” she said.

The eerie thing for Mathis is that her son, a youth pastor at Memorial Presbyterian Church, came straight from senior prom night to give the sermon in the morning.

It was called “Forever Young,” she said with a shiver.

She paused.

“I’m lucky to have had 23 years with him,” she said. “Some people never have children at all.”

ABOUT THE TRANSPORTATION BILL

The newly amended version of the U.S. House Bill called the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act would have increased the truck weight cap from 80,000 to 97,000 pounds.

Justin Harclerode, spokesman for Transportation Committee Chair John Mica, R-Fla., said the provisions were considered because they might have provided “economic benefits for commerce, things like that, efficiency.”

And he said there are safety arguments on both sides of the debate, because an Interstate ban on larger trucks in some states would have those trucks driving on local roads instead.

“And some folks would say it’s safer to have that kind of traffic on an interstate,” he said.

Now the bill requires a three-year study to assess what the impact of those changes would be to safety and infrastructure.

The study plus an anticipated lag before Congress votes on a final version reassure local truck safety advocate Jane Mathis.

However, “It’s up in the air,” Mathis said. “There’s a possibility those provisions could come back.”

“What we hope will happen is nothing,” Mathis said. “We just keep fighting away.”

 

http://staugustine.com/news/local-news/2012-02-04/tragedy-makes-activist-local#.TzFFNPn0-Ag