Letter to Senator Reid in Response Carl Pope Letter

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

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.

Sincerely,

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

 

References:

[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.

Statements of Joan Claybrook and Daphne Izer On the Collins Rider Rolling Back Rules Limiting Hours of Service for Truck Drivers

Statement of Joan Claybrook, Chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safety Highways

On the Collins Rider Rolling Back Rules Limiting Hours of Service for Truck Drivers

December 9, 2014

While the final gavel has not fallen on the omnibus federal funding bill for 2014, tonight’s release of the House version includes the deadly rider sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) which may become law.  Her rider rolls back current federal rules giving truck drivers a reasonable two nights off after 70 hours on duty and replaces it with less rest time and 82 hours of driving and working.

Senator Collins led the assault on behalf of the trucking interests, with no Congressional hearings or scientific studies to support her rider except for the greedy demands of well-heeled corporate lobbyists.  Her proposal completely disregards public opinion which shows that 80 % of the American public opposes longer work hours for truckers.  The public knows the deadly consequences of tired truckers:  more fatigued drivers, more crashes, more deaths, more crippling injuries, and more costs.  Our nation already suffers 4,000 deaths annually and more than 100,000 injuries.   The trucking industry overrode this strong public opposition by cashing in on its financial support to elected officials.

Sen. Collins has now guaranteed that truck driver fatigue will continue to be a growing problem.  Our drivers are being driven to death.

No other transportation sector is responsible for so much death and destruction yet its critical safety rules were targeted for wholesale assault.   It seems you can get away with murder if you are well-heeled trucking industry lobbyists.

Several Members of Congress including Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representatives Nita Lowey (D. NY), and Jim McGovern (D-MA) fought to protect the public and stop the trucking industry onslaught along with Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and we commend their efforts.

Statement of Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

In response to the Anti-Truck Safety Rider in the Omnibus bill just released by the House, Endangering All Motorists on America’s Roadways

December 9, 2014

It is shocking that again and again Senator Collins has put the economic interests of the trucking industry before the safety of Maine families and the entire American traveling public.  80% of the American public opposes Congress increasing longer work hours for truck drivers, and yet Senator Collins forges ahead with pushing the corporate agenda.  If my loving son Jeff had been killed in an airplane crash involving a fatigued pilot, Congress would take swift and direct action to improve air traffic safety.  Yet, his death, like so many of the preventable deaths happening each year in crashes involving tired truckers, occurred on just an ordinary day in a small town and did not result in any change in policy protections.  Instead, today Congress responded by turning its back on families like mine and rolling back an important safety rule to prevent overworked and overtired truckers from jeopardizing the safety of everyone. Sen. Collins’s enduring loyalty to corporate trucking interests drove this safety attack and will be a major setback to keep tired truckers off the roads.

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

cchase@saferoads.org

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.

BACKGROUND:      

  • 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).

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Read Daphne Izer’s Letter in Response to Senator Collins’ Deadly and Dangerous Provision to Increase Working Hours for Truck Drivers

Dear Senator Collins,

I am personally offended by your attack on Secretary Foxx for sending a letter on Friday to House and Senate Members stating his objections to your deadly and dangerous provision to significantly increase the allowable working and driving hours of truck drivers.  Your response on Friday, released through your spokesperson Kevin Kelley, was that the letter was “inflammatory.”  What is inflammatory is that I have been meeting with your staff and writing to you for many years about the problems of truck safety nationally and in Maine.  You have only responded to the needs of the trucking industry and not to the needs of families like mine and the thousands of others who have had loved ones killed every year because of overworked and overtired truck drivers.

My teenage son Jeff and three of his friends needlessly died in a preventable truck crash when a Walmart driver fell asleep at the wheel.  Truck driver fatigue has been recognized for decades by the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal government and confirmed in scientific studies as a major safety problem and factor in truck crashes.  Yet, despite the evidence and the thousands of innocent deaths you still push the industry’s agenda to require even more weekly, monthly and annual hours of working and driving.  Since Jeff’s death there have been other tragic fatigue related truck crashes in Maine, such as the death of five-year-old Liam Mahaney, when a 104,000 pound logging truck crashed onto the Mahaney family’s lawn, overturned, and spilled its load into their house. The truck driver had fallen asleep, and as a result, Christina and Gary Mahaney suffered serious injuries, but Liam was killed instantly.

Secretary Foxx has often stated that safety is his highest priority.  He demonstrated that by writing a letter to the Senate and House Members objecting to your proposal to gut a key safety feature of the current rule on truck driver hours of service.  I stand with Secretary Foxx and all of the other public health and safety groups, law enforcement, and other parents who have also had to bury their children because of truck crashes involving fatigue and commend him for speaking out for all of us.

Sincerely,

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, Maine

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer

Press Release: Truck Safety Advocates Respond to News of Truck Crash that Killed New Jersey Police Officer

Contact: Beth Weaver beth_weaver@verizon.net, 703.294.6404

 TRUCK SAFETY ADVOCATES RESPOND TO NEWS OF TRUCK CRASH THAT KILLED NEW JERSEY POLICE OFFICER 

Findings Show Truck Did Not Brake Before Slamming Into Police Car Parked on Highway Shoulder – Truck Driver Charged with Second-Degree Vehicular Homicide

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 18, 2014)—The Bergen County Prosecutor’s office announced in a press release last night that truck driver Ryon Cumberbatch has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide in the crash that killed New Jersey police officer Christopher Goodell. According to the press release, there was no evidence of pre-impact braking by the truck. It was revealed that it appears from the roadway evidence that Cumberbatch drove directly into the police car without stopping or attempting to stop. Truck safety advocates respond to the tragic crash with messages of condolence and support for Officer Goodell’s family.

Daphne Izer founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after losing her son Jeff and his three teenage friends in a crash caused by a tired trucker who fell asleep behind the wheel and ran over their car.  Izer said, “My heart goes out to the Goodell family because I truly understand the pain that they are going through, and I want them to know that our volunteer network, including myself, is here to offer support, grief services and resources.”

Ed Slattery, a Board Member for PATT added, “We don’t know yet for sure whether fatigue was a factor in this crash, but the hour of the crash and the lack of braking would indicate that it is very possible.” Slattery lost his wife, Susan, in 2010 after a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck and crashed into his family’s car on the Ohio Turnpike. His two sons were also seriously injured, one permanently, in the crash.

Slattery added, “Truck driver fatigue has been a known safety issue for over 70 years, yet it remains a major contributor to truck crashes. I am completely dismayed by the amendment introduced by Senator Collins (R-ME) that would force overworked truck drivers to drive even more hours each week, exacerbating fatigue and fatigue related crashes.”

Recent deadly truck crashes in New Jersey, including the crash that killed James McNair and injured comedian Tracy Morgan and two friends, underscore the urgent need to improve truck safety and reduce truck driver fatigue.

In response to the New Jersey truck crashes, and the expanding issue of truck driver fatigue and other truck safety issues, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced an amendment, cosponsored by Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sherrod C. Brown (D-OH), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Brian E. Schatz (D-HI), and Chris S. Murphy (D-CT). The Booker Amendment would protect important safety rules governing rest periods and the hours of service truck drivers may work each week.

Izer, who was awarded the White House Champion of Change award in May 2014, for her efforts to reduce truck driver fatigue, concluded, “I support the Booker Amendment because we need to uphold the ongoing efforts to improve truck safety issues, not make them worse. Our families cannot continue to pay the ultimate price when truck safety issues and improvements are known. It is well past time to make the changes necessary to reduce truck crashes, and the resulting fatalities and injuries.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org), a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), 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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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

 Sincerely,

 Truck Safety Coalition

 Parents Against Tired Truckers

 Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways

 Road Safe America

 John Lindsay Foundation

 

 

Daphne Izer Honored by the White House for her Truck Safety Advocacy

PARENTS AGAINST TIRED TRUCKERS (PATT) FOUNDER HAS BEEN NAMED A 2014 TRANSPORTATION CHAMPION OF CHANGE

Daphne Izer Honored by the White House for her Truck Safety Advocacy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 12, 2014)—It was announced today that Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), will be recognized by the White House as a 2014 Transportation Champion of Change. As PATT marks its twentieth anniversary this month, Daphne will be recognized for her tireless efforts to improve highway safety at an event being held at the White House on May 13, 2014. The 2014 White House Champions of Change will honor eleven Champions in total who have demonstrated exemplary leadership to ensure that transportation facilities, services, and jobs help individuals and their communities connect to 21st century opportunities.

“Daphne’s work to create awareness of truck driver fatigue and seek legislative and regulatory changes to reduce fatigue related truck crashes has undoubtedly saved lives and prevented debilitating injuries,” said John Lannen, Executive Director, Truck Safety Coalition. “Her courage after losing Jeff and his friends, and her strength and passionate advocacy for change over the last twenty years is what makes Daphne a great safety leader.”

With her husband Steve Izer, Daphne founded the nonprofit safety organization, PATT, after her son, Jeff Izer (17), was killed in a preventable truck crash by a fatigued truck driver. The crash killed three other teenagers and seriously injured one more. Since then, Daphne has worked to advance truck safety to help prevent other families from suffering a similar, devastating loss. PATT has focused its efforts on reducing truck driver fatigue and seeking a requirement for the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to accurately record truck driver hours behind the wheel to reduce the falsification of driving logs. PATT took a step toward realizing this goal on July 6, 2012, after President Obama signed into law the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which included a mandate for rulemaking for requiring ELDs in all commercial trucks.

“I was grateful for the inclusion of ELDs in MAP-21, and the final rule for ELDs cannot happen soon enough,” said Izer. “The ELD rule will address a problem that occurs far too often in certain segments of the industry—the falsification of log books tracking hours worked. While this is a significant milestone for safety, unfortunately, for every safety rule or legislation that is passed, there are numerous proposals for exemptions to existing safety regulations and attempts to reduce their effectiveness. Right now, as we’re taking a step forward to reduce truck driver fatigue with ELDs, Members of Congress are considering proposals to roll back safety benefits of the new hours of service (HOS) rule by removing the restart provision. We should not allow any step backwards in safety, and urge the White House Administration and DOT to vigorously defend its HOS rule.”

Since its beginning in 1994, PATT has transformed from the small Maine grassroots group created around the Izer’s kitchen table into a nationally recognized organization. In 2002, PATT combined efforts with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and formed the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) to reach a wider audience and maintain a presence in Washington, D.C. Together, these organizations are dedicated to reducing the number of preventable 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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Daphne Izer Speaks Out – Bangor Daily News

Keep on truckin’

On June 13, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development held a hearing about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. I was confounded to hear Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, decry the dire condition of highways and bridges throughout our state since she was the lead proponent of allowing behemoth 100,000-pound trucks on our interstate.

In January 2011, I urged members of the Maine delegation to stop the 20-year congressional pilot program allowing these overweight trucks on our roads. Despite clear and compelling facts demonstrating the safety risks and damage to our infrastructure, the program was enacted.

Now, Collins says that Maine’s roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation’s rural transportation system. Well, the senator should know that large, heavy trucks are a major cause of bridge and pavement damage.

The Maine Department of Transportation estimates that to maintain state highways and bridges in good repair would cost $335 million annually — $110 million above current levels. The senator should have considered the cost to Maine’s citizens and taxpayers before supporting legislation to allow more big trucks on I-95.

Aside from the damage to our infrastructure, large truck crashes continue to claim about 4,000 lives annually. In 1993, my teenage son, Jeff, and three friends were killed by a large truck while stopped in their car in the breakdown lane of the Maine Turnpike. The chance of surviving a serious crash with a large truck is slim, and now with 100,000-pound trucks, it’s even slimmer.

Daphne Izer

Lisbon

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/20/opinion/letters/friday-june-21-2013-background-checks-wind-power-and-adult-education/

Hours Of Service Regulations: (FAQ’s)

1. Do trucks pose a significant safety problem?

Yes. More than 5,000 people have been killed annually in truck-related crashes for the past several years. Large trucks are severely over represented in annual crash figures. Although they are only 3 percent of the registered vehicles, they are responsible for 12 to 13 percent of passenger vehicle occupant deaths each year Continue reading “Hours Of Service Regulations: (FAQ’s)”

THE DANGERS OF FATIGUED, SLEEP-DEPRIVED TRUCK DRIVERS

Fatigue Is A Killer: Operator fatigue and sleep deprivation are serious, worldwide safety problems in all transportation modes. Operator fatigue has been identified by national governments and the European Union as a major contributor to air, maritime, railroad, and passenger vehicle crashes. In the United States, the Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board have cited fatigue as a major factor in truck crash causation. These crashes lead to losses of life Continue reading “THE DANGERS OF FATIGUED, SLEEP-DEPRIVED TRUCK DRIVERS”