Side Underride Crashes:
NHTSA has reported that large truck side impacts comprised 17 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015. One reason why collisions with the sides of tractor-trailers are hazardous is that there is a large area of the trailer where underride may occur during these collisions. In addition, bicyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable to side underride interactions because of their size and the lack of protection. As the length of a truck increases, so does the size of the blind spot area. These interactions can occur when a truck is turning or making an illegal U-turn, and the cab or trailer obstructs the driver’s view.
Side Underride Crash Test:
The Truck Safety Coalition’s Underride Initiative, consisting of families of truck underride crash victims and survivors, is extremely pleased with the results of a recent crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that assessed a side underride guard for the first time ever.
The IIHS conducted two tests of a midsize car traveling at 35 mph colliding with the center of a 53-foot-long dry van at a 90-degree angle – the most difficult type of side underride collision to prevent.
In one scenario, the trailer was equipped with a fiberglass side skirt intended (only) to improve aerodynamics, which did nothing to prevent the car from riding underneath the trailer. The car was decimated, the roof sheared, and any passengers would have been killed.
In the other scenario, the trailer was equipped with an AngelWing Side Underride protection device –manufactured by Airflow Deflector Inc. Instead of riding under the trailer and allowing for passenger compartment intrusion, this innovative side underride guard allowed the car’s airbags to deploy and its crumple zone to help diffuse the kinetic energy transferred upon impact. These safety features have been rendered ineffective in the past due to the lack of crash compatibility between cars and the sides of trailers.
Study Created with Pre-Determined Outcome of Failure
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Late last week, the Office of the Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) sent a letter to Congress regarding a study of safety reforms to the truck driver hours of service (HOS) rules. By sending this letter, the IG essentially gives the imprimatur of this well-respected office to a study that was set up for failure at the onset and will ultimately result in the continuation of the widespread industry problem of truck driver fatigue. Parameters of the study and what it was charged with finding were widely attributed to being crafted by corporate trucking interests in an effort to undue safety reforms which took effect in 2013. While the IG may have signed off that the study was carried out as mandated by Congress, the IG did not assess the underlying data used. Rather, the IG simply “rubber stamped” that the “junk science” study checked off all the boxes required by Congress when it created the study.
As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, corporate trucking interests and their friends in Congress inserted legislative language that suspended enforcement of the 2013 HOS reforms until the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) completed further study on the effectiveness of the provisions. Concerned that the study would not produce results favorable to their agenda, these same interests inserted additional language into the FY 2016 THUD bill which raised the bar on what the study had to find. This backroom industry rewrite all but guaranteed the preordained outcome that was realized today. These policy provisions were inserted to a funding bill behind closed doors without any public input. Further, they belie decades of irrefutable data that shows that driver fatigue is a serious safety problem within the trucking industry. “When I began advocating for truck safety after a truck driver fell asleep while driving and killed my son Jeff, I never thought I would still be fighting on the issue of fatigue more than two decades later,” said Daphne Izer, Co-Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), “Truck drivers should not be forced to drive and work such grueling schedules, and the public should not be subjected to the risk that tired truckers pose to all road users.”
The study, while yet to be made available for public review, could have only examined 15 months of data as the Obama reforms went into effect in July of 2013 and were suspended at the behest of the certain segments of the trucking industry in December of 2014. The fact that the study was fatally flawed from the start and reached such a dubious conclusion is totally unsurprising. “This study does nothing to shed light on the serious problem of truck driver fatigue,” said Jackie Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “But, it does shed light on the power of special trucking interests to run to their friends in Congress and repeal important health and safety rules. Sadly, the U.S. DOT IG has become yet another political pawn in this tortured process.”
Common sense and real world experience clearly show that truck driver fatigue is a serious and pervasive safety problem, no matter how much special trucking interests wish to believe otherwise. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a major contributor to truck crashes and included reducing fatigue related crashes on the 2017-18 Most Wanted List of safety changes. In addition, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has warned that drowsy driving can have the same consequences as driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. “Since 2009, truck crashes have shot up by 45 percent, resulting in a 20 percent increase in truck crash fatalities and a 57 percent increase in truck crash injuries,” stated John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “Instead of focusing on requiring crash avoidance technologies in large trucks that would have actually reduced crashes, FMCSA was forced to spend time and money conducting an ill-conceived study based on flawed data.”
While high profile crashes like the one that killed comedian James McNair and seriously injured Tracy Morgan grab national headlines, fatigue-related crashes happen to families all over the country every day. Until leaders in Congress are willing to face the real facts about truck driver fatigue, far too many Americans will continue to be needlessly killed by tired truckers.
For more than 30 years, I have been advocating to make trucking safer, since my father, James Mooney, was killed in a large truck crash in 1983. He was driving on a dark rural road at a time when truck conspicuity was hardly a consideration, and his car rode under the truck trailer that was blocking the roadway. While my advocacy helped lead to a requirement for reflective tape on truck trailers, there are still too many preventable truck crashes.
When I read that a tanker truck hauling non-dairy creamer overturned on I-40 in Forsyth County earlier this month, I was thankful that no one was hurt. Then I found out that the truck driver admitted to falling asleep at the wheel before overturning. I was outraged.
The number of truck crashes is continuing to rise, increasing 45 percent since 2009. Yet for the past three years, Congress has passed legislation permitting truck drivers to work more than 80 hours per week, amongst other corporate handouts that will not reduce the amount of truck crashes.
Requiring automatic emergency braking on trucks and mandating side underride guards on trailers are commonsense solutions that will reduce the number of truck crashes, injuries and fatalities. None of these changes, however, were included in the FAST Act or in the accompanying appropriations bill.
Congress should pass legislation requiring all trucks to be equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB). This technology will be standard on all new cars in the United States by 2022, and a requirement for it was passed in the European Union in 2012. AEB works by applying the brakes in the event that the truck driver fails to apply the brakes, like if a driver falls asleep behind the wheel.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that forward collision avoidance and mitigation and lane departure warning systems can address 1 out of 4 heavy vehicle involved crashes. Moreover, crash records from motor carriers were examined after some of their fleet was equipped with forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems, and the results were consistent. Trucks without this technology were more than twice as likely to be the striking vehicle in a rear-end crash than trucks with the system.
Unfortunately, Congress has done little to require this technology, while prioritizing efforts to increase the length of double tractor-trailers, which will take even longer to stop than existing double configurations. When Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia offered a bill mandating automatic emergency braking, it died in subcommittee; he subsequently offered it as an amendment to a larger bill to no avail. Some opponents of this technology claimed it might not be effective in reducing crashes, despite ample evidence that it does, while others claimed that AEB would hurt small business because of the costs of technology.
Yet when certain large trucking companies wanted “Double 33” trailers, the language was inserted into a must-pass bill. The opponents who decried the cost of AEB said nothing of the fact that increasing the size of double tractor-trailers would force many smaller companies to upgrade their fleets to remain competitive with larger trucking companies. As with past size and weight increases, there are two things we can anticipate: 1) it will not result in fewer trucks, and 2) shippers will hire companies with the maximum shipping capabilities. This means that small companies will be forced to buy new 33-foot trailers to replace their existing single 53-foot trailers or double 28-foot trailers. New trailers cost thousands of dollars.
It is also frustrating that there are lawmakers who are ready to increase the length of double trailers by five feet per trailer, even though existing trailers have a long recognized safety issue — a lack of side underride guards. While the European Union has required these life-saving protections on trailers for decades, the United States does not and shows no signs of doing so anytime soon. So, increasing double tractor-trailers from 28-feet per trailer to 33-feet per trailer not only results in an additional 22 feet of braking distance and a 6-foot wider turning radius but also 10 more feet of exposed area underneath the trailer.
Improving underride protections would save lives and prevent injuries resulting from truck crashes. Without these protections, bicyclists and pedestrians are at risk of traveling under trailers. Motorists, like my father who was killed in an underride crash, are also at risk of death or injury as underride collisions bypass crumple zones, prevent airbag deployment, and cause passenger compartment intrusion.
I am hopeful that members of Congress will recognize that despite all of their differences, they all represent a state or a district that has constituents who have been adversely affected by truck crashes. They need to be more interested in public safety rather than private interests. Passing a bill requiring automatic emergency braking on trucks and side underride guards on trailers will do just that. Requiring longer trucks that will only benefit a handful of large motor carriers, and will be more difficult for truck drivers to operate, will not.
I was devastated to hear about the recent truck crash in which a 5-year-old boy and his volunteer driver were killed on the Maine Turnpike.
As a mother who lost her son in a truck crash, I know the pain and grief the families are going through; my thoughts are with them and will be as they learn to cope with such devastating losses.
As an advocate for truck safety, however, I am angry because this crash, and the fatalities it caused, could have been avoided by requiring two common-sense improvements on large trucks: stronger rear underride guards and automatic emergency braking.
Underride crashes have been identified as a problem dating back to the 1950s. Since that time, the government has required a woefully inadequate and antiquated standard that many times renders useless a car’s protections, like airbag deployment and a crumple zone. Consequently, there is passenger compartment intrusion, which results in truly horrific crashes, like this one.
Automatic emergency braking is a much newer solution than underride guards for reducing truck crashes, but the technology is being developed and employed rapidly. In fact, all major car companies will require automatic emergency braking by 2022. There is no reason why trucks, which take much longer to stop than cars, should not be equipped with it, too.
founder and co-chair, Parents Against Tired Truckers
STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION
ON RELEASE OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL CLEARINGHOUSE FINAL RULE
ARLINGTON, VA (December 2, 2016) – After years of unnecessary delays, we are pleased that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today published a final rule to establish the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. This rule will greatly enhance safety on our roads as employers will be able to access information regarding the testing history of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers applying for jobs and identify drivers who have previously violated alcohol and drug tests.
CMV drivers who have violated drug and alcohol testing currently pose a major threat to everyone on the road, but under the longtime system of self-reporting many employers were unable to access this information to avoid hiring problem drivers. The establishment of this new drug and alcohol clearinghouse that requires employers to check current and prospective employees will be a significant step forward for safety.
Truck Safety Coalition volunteers have first-hand experience with the deadly outcomes that result from truck drivers operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not unearthed until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues. This will no longer be the case as employers in the industry can now preemptively promote safety by identifying and not hiring dangerous drivers.
The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), looks forwards to working with Secretary-Designate of Transportation, Elaine Chao, and President-Elect Donald Trump on behalf of our volunteers who have lost loved ones in truck crashes to improve overall truck safety in the United States. Our volunteers know first-hand the devastating consequences of preventable truck crashes and have transcended their own losses and injuries to advocate for truck safety improvements to benefit all who drive on our roads.
A focus on safety is crucial given the troubling trends in truck safety. Truck crashes have skyrocketed by 45 percent between 2009 and 2015 and the injuries they cause rose at an even faster rate in that same period, climbing by a staggering 57 percent. Unfortunately, there are also more and more families like the ones who volunteer with our organization, who have an empty seat at their tables, as the number of people killed in truck crashes continues to grow. In fact, this past year marked the first time since 2008 that the number of truck crash deaths exceeded 4,000.
We wish Ms. Chao success on becoming our nation’s next top transportation official and offer our insight, experience, and assistance to her as she navigates the challenging issues in trucking that pertain to drivers, the vehicles, the industry as a whole, and the people with whom truck drivers share the road.
As Thanksgiving travelers hit the highways for home, consider that the trucking industry is so desperate for drivers that it’s pushing to lower the minimum driving age from 21 to 18 and is aggressively recruiting retirees.
The industry estimates that it will need to hire 89,000 new drivers each year over the next decade to replace retirees and meet growing freight demand. Here’s a recruiting tip: Start treating drivers like humans rather than automatons that don’t need to sleep.
Instead, with help from friends in Congress, the industry is out to kill rules aimed at protecting all of us, which guarantee that drivers of commercial vehicles, including buses, get reasonable rest. Congress must pass a spending plan by Dec. 9, so the plan is to attach repeal of Obama administration rest rules to it.
Kentuckians Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader, and House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers are in positions to stop the permanent repeal of science-based requirements for 34 hours of rest, including two periods between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. when sleep is most restorative, after driving 60 hours in a week and a 30-minute rest break within the first eight hours of a shift to preserve alertness. The industry also is seeking to block state rest requirements.
At the very least, such critical safety decisions should be subject to public debate and not attached to measures that must pass to avert a government shutdown.
After years of study, the anti-fatigue rule took effect in 2013, but Congress suspended it — despite a 50 percent increase in the number of people injured in large truck crashes from 2009 to 2014. Truck crash deaths increased 20 percent from 2009 to last year when 4,067 people died in truck crashes, the most since 2008.
This won’t surprise: When tractor-trailer rigs tangle with passenger vehicles, 97 percent of the dead are occupants of the passenger vehicles. The lethality of truck crashes is evident in Kentucky where last year big trucks were involved in 4 percent of all vehicle collisions but in 9 percent of fatal collisions.
Driving a large truck is one of the most dangerous jobs; more than 700 commercial drivers died on the job in 2013, according to Bloomberg. Drivers are exempt from federal overtime rules and are usually paid by the mile.
Reducing fatigue-related accidents is one of the top priorities of the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates transportation accidents and disasters and makes recommendations for averting them in the future. “Fatigue degrades a person’s ability to stay awake, alert, and attentive to the demands of controlling their vehicle safely. To make matters worse, fatigue actually impairs our ability to judge just how fatigued we really are,” says the NTSB. A fatigued driver can be as impaired as someone who is legally drunk.
Instead of rolling back rest requirements, Congress and federal transportation officials should be looking at requiring regular skills tests of commercial drivers. CBS News recently reported a 19 percent increase in accidents involving commercial truck and bus drivers in their 70s, 80s and 90s in the last three years. More than 6,636 crashes in just 12 states involved elderly commercial drivers from 2013 to 2015, according to CBS.
We all depend on products moved by truck. Fortunately, the trucking industry is not unanimous in its opposition to the rest rule. By saving the rule, Congress can ensure that a commitment to safety does not become a competitive disadvantage.
Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/opinion/editorials/article117054288.html#storylink=cpy
Arlington, VA (August 26, 2016) – After ten years since a petition for rulemaking was filed, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) just released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter rule. TSC supports a rule that extends the set speed requirement to all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds that are already equipped with a speed limiting device, and that requires the speed limiters to be set at 65 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this proposed rule fails to outline either of these requirements.
As TSC has stated before, this technology has been built into most truck’s engine control module (ECM) since the 1990s. The agencies reaffirmed this in the NPRM. Nevertheless, they have chosen, so far, to only apply this rule to new trucks, while asking for comment “on whether to require that the speed limiting devices in these older CMVs be set to a speed not greater than a maximum specified set speed.” It is unreasonable that in the ten years since the petition was filed and after acknowledging in their NPRM that ECMs “have been installed in most heavy trucks since 1999,” that NHTSA and FMCSA were unable to propose a rule that extended to older CMVs with this technology already installed.
Furthermore, it is discouraging that after all of these years the agencies were unable to decide upon a speed limit, 60 mph, 65 mph, or 68 mph. That is a range of eight miles per hour. This may seem like a minimal difference in speed, but as the agencies note in their NPRM – this can have a huge effect on the impact force during a crash: “As speed increases, so does the amount of kinetic energy a vehicle has.” So how can the agencies note that a difference of five miles per hour can greatly enhance the kinetic energy of a vehicle, while considering setting speed limiters at 60 mph or 68 mph? The fact of the matter is that the agencies should have selected a speed to set the limiters before publishing the NPRM so that the public could have commented on their choice; asking for comments on all three options should have been asked when the petition was granted back in 2011.
We hope between now and the publication of this rule, NHTSA and FMCSA remember that their primary goals are to promote safety, and will implement a commonsense, life-saving rule.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Setting of Speed Limiters in Large Trucks to be Released;
TSC Encourages Agency to Apply Regulation to All Large Trucks
Arlington, VA (August 18, 2016): The Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), is pleased that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) promulgated a Proposed Rule requiring speed limiters to be set on large trucks. This standard equipment, which is built into the truck’s engine control module, has actually been manufactured in large trucks since the early 1990s. While requiring speed limiters will advance truck safety and prevent needless truck crash injuries and fatalities, if the agency decides to only apply the rule to new trucks, it will greatly blunt the potential safety benefits.
John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, explained the importance of this rule applying to all large trucks rather than just newer units: “According to findings from the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, more than one out of five large truck crashes were coded as ‘traveling too fast for conditions.’ By capping the speed at which large trucks can travel, this will not only reduce the occurrences of truck crashes, but will also greatly reduce the risk of death or injury by decreasing the impact of the collision.”
“Additionally, the safety benefits of speed limiters have not just been studied, but have also been realized by companies that equipped their trucks with this life-saving technology,” Lannen continued. “One company found that their non-speed limited vehicles were involved in over 40 percent of potentially severe crashes, despite only constituting 17 percent of their fleet. In Ontario, Canada, there was a 24 percent reduction in truck crashes within one year of mandating speed limiters to be set at 65mph. And when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) studied speed limiters, the agency determined that trucks equipped with speed limiters were nearly 50 percent less likely to be involved in a crash. Clearly this regulation will produce safety benefits, but the extent of those benefits can only be maximized by applying this rule to as many large trucks as possible.”
Lannen, concluded, “While we welcome this safety advancement, we find it necessary to point out that this rule took far too long to be published. The petition to initiate the rulemaking was filed in September of 2006. After a decade and almost 30 delays, it is clear that there is a problem with the rulemaking process. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this broken system are the thousands of unnecessary speeding-related truck crashes that have occurred between then and now. We look forward to the United States catching up to other leading countries on the implementation of speed limiters, and will continue working to ensure that rather than following, the United States will lead on other safety advancements in trucking, in particular – automatic emergency braking.”
For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016
Contact: Beth Weaver 301-814-4088, email@example.com
THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee
The House Committee on Appropriations today passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which included Section 132 – the tired trucker provision. We are disappointed that a majority of the committee opposed an amendment offered Congressman David Price (D-NC) to remove this and other anti-safety riders from the bill.
Daphne Izer, founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) said, “I am frustrated that year after year, our lawmakers are more focused on inserting corporate earmarks into must-pass bills than passing data-driven safety solutions that will save lives and prevent injuries. Not only does this special interest handout, which will change a federal safety rule, have no place in an appropriations bill, it has no place in any bill. The tired trucker provision has not been subject to any public scrutiny, committee hearings, or adequate safety review. Trucking industry lobbyists should not be able to use the appropriations process to drive their agendas, while everyday people like me are forced to wait years for meaningful safety reforms in the gridlocked legislative avenues available to the non-lobbying public.”
Jennifer Tierney, the Truck Safety Coalition’s North Carolina Volunteer Coordinator stated, “I was very pleased when I heard that Representative Price offered an amendment to remove several anti-safety riders from the THUD bill, and I thank him on his efforts on behalf of families, survivors, and the motoring public. After more than three decades of advocacy, however, I was not surprised that this commonsense, pro-safety amendment was rejected in favor of a corporate handout. With nearly 4,000 people killed and 100,000 injured year as a result of truck crashes, it is time for our lawmakers to finally acknowledge that increasing a truck driver’s driving and working hours is not the solution to the major safety issue of fatigue.”
“Ultimately, the rejection of the Price amendment has created a tradition that adversely affects policy as well as process. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition will continue to educate the public and lawmakers about policies and regulations that will reduce the number of large truck crashes and the resulting injuries and fatalities.” Tierney concluded.
The Truck Safety Coalition is a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT). The Truck Safety Coalition 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.
The May 11 column “Maine Voices: Common-sense restrictions on truck drivers’ hours must be preserved” makes inaccurate statements about anti-truck safety provisions championed by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
There are about 500 truck crashes annually in Maine. Many crashes result in deaths and injuries, and the victims are usually Maine families.
Despite the carnage, Sen. Collins continues to be the star quarterback for special trucking interests seeking to repeal safety regulations that protect the lives of truck drivers and Maine families. National news stories have documented her legacy working on behalf of corporate trucking interests and, in turn, their generous largesse for her support.
Unfortunately, the annual government spending bill has become her private domain for pushing anti-truck safety measures. When trucking interests sought to significantly increase truck weights in Maine, Sen. Collins was ready to help. Last year, FedEx and others recognized a willing partner in Sen. Collins when they sought to overturn laws in 39 states, including Maine, and allow monster-sized trucks across the country.
And, for the third consecutive year, as a senior Appropriations Committee member, she slipped a provision into the bill to repeal the reasonable federal limits on the driving and working hours of truckers, although fatigue is a major cause of truck crashes.
However, this time she went even further and wrote into law an increase in the driving hours of truckers from 60 to 73 in a week. This is insane, but she has the temerity to actually claim it will be safer. This proposal had no congressional hearing, no scientific review and no public input. But it’s no problem if you are a well-connected trucking lobbyist.
Truck crashes kill 4,000 people and injure 100,000 more annually. Sen. Collins’ solution is to help corporate trucking interests protect their profits, but not public safety.
Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Monroe County residents have witnessed some spectacularly devastating truck accidents over the years. They should beware measures under consideration in Congress this week that would raise truckers’ allowable working and driving hours, risking even more crashes that would imperil drivers themselves and the motoring public.
Congress is doing this virtually without public scrutiny — without hearings and under pressure from the trucking industry — by including these unsafe proposals in fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills. Elected officials in both the Senate and the House don’t want to get in the way of their precious federal funds.
But human life is precious, too. Senate and House committees are considering raising truckers’ allowable hours from the 60 currently permitted to 73 driving hours per week, plus 10 non-driving hours — loading, unloading, for example. Truckers could take as little as a mere day plus 10 hours, just 34 hours total, time off before they could begin their “work week” all over again. This is more than risky, it’s dangerous. Public safety should never be compromised for the sake of trucking companies’ bottom line.
Drivers themselves oppose these changes. The Teamsters, citizens’ groups, law enforcement agencies, federal and state safety officials and even some trucking companies argue, sensibly, against expanding work hours beyond the cap the Obama administration instituted in 2013.
The National Transportation Safety Board lists reducing fatigue-related crashes as among its top priorities this year, noting that truck crashes result in 4,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries every year. Driver fatigue is a frequent factor. The NHTSA’s National Automotive Sambling System Crashworthiness Data System crunched data and estimated that 16;5 percent of fatal crashes involved drowsy driving.
Anyone who uses Interstate 80, I-380 or four-lane Route 33/209 is aware of the truck-related carnage that should be everyone’s mission to reduce. Pennsylvania Congressman Shuster, R-9, chairs the House transportation and infrastructure committee. He should vigorously oppose these changes, which industry lobbyists succeeded in getting legislators to slip into the appropriations bills specifically to avoid the public hearings that would be necessary at the committee level. Call Shuster in Washington at 202-225-2431. Ask him which is more important: trucking company profits, or people’s lives?
WASHINGTON — Truck driver Dana Logan tried on Wednesday to recount a crash that decapitated two fathers and two children, hoping to convince Congress to stop weakening rules that require truckers to get rest.
She couldn’t do it. A dozen years after the fatigued driver of another truck fell asleep and drove into an SUV stuck in traffic behind her rig on a Texas highway, Logan was still too devastated to finish talking about it.
She drives trucks with her husband, Tim, as a team. That June day in 2004 near Sulphur Springs, the other driver fell asleep and rammed the SUV, pushing it under the carriage of Logan’s trailer, shearing off the top half of the vehicle with its four helpless passengers inside.
Logan got as far as recalling how her husband rushed to help the other trucker.
“When Tim tried the get the injured driver out of the truck, he [the other driver] asked him, ‘Did I hit something?’ Those were his last words before he died,” Logan told reporters in a conference call aimed at legislation moving in Congress this week.
Sobbing, Logan had to stop. She asked her husband to finish.
What the Logans and other safety advocates are worried about are measures that would allow truck drivers to work more than 80 hours a week, tacked onto to separate appropriations bills in the House and the Senate.
In the Senate, a measure that allows 73 hours of driving and an additional 8.5 hours on related work each week was added to a massive spending measure that will fund transportation, housing and military construction projects, as well as the Veterans Administration. Funding for Zika prevention has also been added to that bill, making it very likely to pass.
In the House, measures were added to the transportation and housing appropriations bill under consideration in the committee that set similar rest rules, reverting to regulations originally set in the Bush administration that were repeatedly challenged and thrown out in lawsuits.
Both bills would prevent the Obama administration from enforcing a regulation that briefly went into effect in 2013 that effectively capped truck drivers’ working hours at 70 a week, and ensured they could have two nights off in a row. That rule was blocked by a rider in a 2014 spending bill, which had to pass to avert a government shutdown.
The new inserted policy provisions represent a trend over the last three years of trucking industry interests using must-pass spending bills to win regulatory concessions that are opposed by most safety advocates and likely could not pass as normal stand-alone bills. In this case, not only do the bills fund major parts of the government, they provide cash to fight Zika.
“There’s not been any congressional hearings on any of these proposals,” said Jackie Gillian, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “The trucking industry doesn’t want to have hearings, they don’t want to hear from truck drivers like Dana Logan. They don’t want to hear from victims.
“They know that if they do have testimony and they have the experts up there, the people affected, that they would see how illogical and insane these proposals are,” Gillian said.
Those trucking interests see the complaints of safety advocates as illogical.
On the rest requirements, known as hours-of-service rules, the industry believes advocates are inventing problems.
“There’s this claim by these anti-truck groups that drivers are abusing it. There’s no data showing that,” said Dave Osieki, who is in charge of public advocacy at the American Trucking Associations.
Osieki argued that it’s nearly impossible for drivers to string together their hours to hit the 80-plus hour maximums that are theoretically allowed under the rules that the trucking provisions in both spending bills would preserve. “We just don’t see a need for it,” he said of the tougher Obama administration standard with two nights off.
Osieki added that he’s seen no evidence that hours of service rules improve safety.
“Show me a link between compliance or noncompliance of the hours of service rules, and there is none,” he said.
Nevertheless, police who enforce the highway safety laws do see a connection.
One is Illinois Trooper Douglas Balder. Balder was nearly burned alive when a truck driver completely ignored the rules, and drove into the back of Balder’s patrol car. Balder, also a military veteran, spent months in rehab to get back on the beat. He doesn’t want Congress rolling back safety rules, and joined Wednesday’s conference call to say so.
“I continue to take to the road every day to do my part to protect the people and ensure the law is upheld,” Balder said. “I cannot do my job alone. I urge Congress to take necessary action to ensure our safety, not to put us further at risk.”
The White House has threatened to veto the Senate spending bill, in part because of the rest rule rollback. But the prospect of a veto is less likely with the Zika measure attached.
Three senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) hoped to offer an amendment in debate Thursday to restore the Obama rest regulations. It was unclear if they would get the chance amid all the back-and-forth around Zika and other pressing matters surrounding the larger legislation. Democrats tried to remove Zika funding from the bill on Wednesday, but were blocked.
WLMT TV (Memphis)
WVIR TV (Charlottesville, VA)
The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)
Rocky Mount Telegram (NC)
The Truck Safety Coalition has honored three trucking industry leaders for commitment and dedication to fleet safety.
TSC, often seen as an “anti-truck” group, presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, senior vice president of safety, security and driver personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services.
The group gave special recognition for J.B. Hunt’s purchase of 4,000 Wabash trailers with enhanced rear underride protections. The underride guards are engineered to prevent underride crashes at higher impact speeds and overlap percentages. Woodruff was also recognized for using telematics to supervise driving behaviors and enhanced drug testing procedures to promote safe driving at J.B. Hunt.
“The Truck Safety Coalition commends Greer Woodruff for his strong commitment to advancing truck safety during his 28 years at J.B. Hunt,” said John Lannen, executive director of the TSC. “I applaud Woodruff and his team for their tireless efforts to eliminate all crashes involving J.B. Hunt drivers and equipment.”
In addition to Woodruff, TSC announced that Reggie Dupre, CEO of Dupre Logistics, and Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA, will receive the Truck Safety Leadership Award at a later date.
Dupre was noted for implementing a training program for drivers, a fatigue management plan that includes hourly pay for many of Dupre Logistics’ drivers, and the use of “common-sense safety technologies.”
“We also commend Mr. Dupre for his involvement in the Trucking Alliance, which supports an increase for the minimum insurance required by motor carriers, and recently announced its opposition to efforts going on right now in the United States Senate to roll back federal hours of service rules for truck drivers,” said Jane Mathis, vice president of the Truck Safety Coalition.
Williams is a founder of the Trucking Alliance and has advocated for electronic logging devices and opposed increases to truck size and weight. He has also implemented collision avoidance technology on fleet vehicles, including electronic stability control, collision mitigation systems, and lane departure warning systems with forward-looking cameras.
“Steve Williams, Reggie Dupre and Greer Woodruff and their companies are leaders in the Trucking Alliance,” said Lane Kidd, who serves as managing director of the Trucking Alliance. “And these awards are further recognition of their commitment to reduce accidents and a belief that we must work with all transportation stakeholders to promote greater highway safety for truck drivers and motorists alike.”
The Truck Safety Coalition is made up of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers. The group is dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck-related crashes and provides support to truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims.
I’d never been a witness to a test crash before. I suppose not many people have. It’s kind of a surreal experience, especially for a person that’s had a loved one die in a violent crash.My husband and I, along with several other of our truck safety volunteers attended an all day conference at the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety in Charlottesville Virginia on Thursday.
And it wasn’t just us in attendance.
In an unprecedented move truck companies, trailer manufacturers, safety advocates, bicycle and pedestrian representatives, policy makers, and researchers were all together in one room to talk about the problem of truck underride.
Most of you don’t know what truck underride is, and I wish I didn’t have to explain it to you. But because our country is a generation behind Europe you probably haven’t seen a truck sporting a side guard to keep a car from traveling under the trailer in a crash.
Perhaps, if you’ve been in New York City or Boston recently, you’ve seen city trucks with side guards; those two cities have now mandated this safety precaution after several bicyclists and pedestrians were killed by falling beneath the trailers and being crushed by the wheels.
Side and rear underride is a huge problem outside cities too. As you pass a semi out on the freeway, and if it’s safe, glance over and see where the underside of that trailer would hit you if you slid under. Just about the height of your head. And if you slide under your airbags won’t deploy as there would be no impact of the engine and front of your car. The first impact would be the windshield, and that won’t save you.
And don’t think you’re safe if you hit a semi from behind. Many of the rear guards were built to 1953 standards and will collapse if you hit them with any speed. Once again, the only thing between your head and the back of that trailer will be the windshield.
So for years safety advocates, including the Truck Safety Coalition, has been asking the Department of Transportation to require better rear guards, and to start the process to mandate side guards. It’s another one of those no-brainer things that we just can’t seem to get done through normal channels.
Thursday’s conference wasn’t a normal channel. Never before has the industry met with the safety people to discuss making changes that would move ahead of any regulations that might some day come out of the D.O.T. Never before has such candid conversations been held, without animosity, without rancor, with only safety in mind.
It was amazing.
At noon we went into the lab and watched a test crash of a Malibu slamming at 35 mpr into the back of a semi trailer that had been equipped with a new, stronger rear guard. Some of us weren’t sure we wanted to witness such a thing, but we’re all glad we did.
Because in this case the new rear guard held up and the passenger compartment, crash dummy inside, was not penetrated. (You can watch the crash test here.) Everyone inside this particular car would have survived. For many people the test crash was the highlight of the day. But I thought the highlight was later in the program.
During the day we had speakers from New York City and Boston tell us about the processes they went through requiring side guards on trucks within their city limits. We had speakers from government talking about where in the regulatory process we are, speakers from trailer manufacturers talking about stronger rear guards that are ready for market now, from a truck company that has ordered 4,000 of the new, safer rear guards, and from Virginia Tech students who showed us their own new design for a stronger, safer rear guard.
Those students almost made me cry. They were undergraduates, the project assigned to them was to build a better rear guard for a semi truck. They, like most people, had never heard of underride crashes before. They learned about the problem, dreamed up a number of potential solutions, weeded their options down to four, and then figured out which one was the most plausible, most acceptable to both the trucking industry and safety advocates.
And then they built a it.
Incredibly 18 and 19 year old young people spent a year on this project, realized the importance of their work, and were brave enough to come and speak about it to a group of adults working in the industry. They were excited about their design and proud to show it off. And a room full of jaded adults sat respectfully listening, leaning forward, following along, congratulation the students at the end for a good design, inviting them to join the industry after they graduate. To think that this whole room of people, including the kids, was there to make the roads safer for everyone. Well. That just about made me tear up.
It should make you tear up too.
Because change is happening. It’s happening because we’ve moved past regulations and asked the industry to listen and to do what’s right. And they are responding. Not everyone. And not every request. But some. And some change will lead to more change. And every step we make toward safety saves another life.
Change is hard. But it’s not impossible.
On April 12, 2016 at approximately 8:40 a.m., State Trooper Rodney A. Hart, 45, was parked in the right lane of I-70 east of Buckeye Lake helping Shanice J. Parker, 23, with a disabled car when they were both hit by a semi-truck.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Rodney A. Hart and Shanice J. Parker were both inside the cruiser when the semi-truck drifted into the right lane, drove through the flares, and hit the patrol car. Ms. Parker was airlifted to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Trooper Rodney A. Hart was transported to Licking Memorial Hospital in Newark for his injuries and later released.
The truck driver, Eric Miller, 36, of Montrose, South Dakota, was not injured and was charged with failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and driving a commercial vehicle with impaired alertness.
The crash is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
Truck driver fatigue has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years. Studies sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal that 65% of truck drivers report that they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half of truck drivers admit that they had actually fallen asleep while driving in the previous year.
Statement of Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)
In Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service
April 21, 2016
For a third year now, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed a spending bill that was co-authored by a select few trucking industry lobbyists. The industry-penned provision will increase the amount of hours truck drivers can work in a week and deprive truckers of a real weekend off. This is wrong on so many levels. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), this practice is business as usual.
It is outrageous that segments of the trucking industry have been able to use must-pass spending bills as legislative vehicles to drive their agendas that make public safety take a back seat. What is even worse is that the process by which industry lobbyists write and insert their provisions is often highly secretive. This has allowed moneyed interests to make changes to laws governing trucking without so much as a congressional hearing, any federal agency review, or any public input.
Lawmakers should treat safety interests with the same importance as corporate interests, but this has not been the case with this appropriations subcommittee. For instance, I have been advocating for more than 20 years for laws requiring large trucks to have electronic logging devices (ELDs) and heavy vehicle speed limiters. Yet, it took nearly two decades for a Final Rule on ELDs, and the Final Rule for speed limiters was just delayed for the 28th time since being initiated in 2006. When trucking industry lobbyists realized they miswrote language, however, it only took them several weeks to secure an immediate change to the law from their friend in the Senate.
This egregious exploitation of the appropriations process is an affront to truck safety and to the memory of the thousands of Americans, including my son Jeff, who were needlessly killed in large truck crashes. With the one year anniversary of the truck crash that killed the five Georgia Southern University nursing students falling one day after this vote, I want to convey my sincerest sympathy to the families of Emily Clark, Catherine “McKay” Pittman, Caitlyn N. Baggett, Abbie L. Deloach, and Morgan J. Bass. Their deaths should serve as grave reminder that lawmakers need to do much more to combat the role that issues like fatigue play in causing truck crashes, including reversing the provision that was just passed.
It is time for Senator Collins to stop holding this “back door” open for industry insiders to have uninhibited access to write rules and laws that are in their best interest. Instead, she should look at the facts, listen to general public, and use a transparent process.
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.
Contact: Beth Weaver firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Contact: Beth Weaver 301.814.4088,/email@example.com
THE SAFETY COMMUNITY AND TEAMSTERS RESPOND TO NTSB INITIAL REPORT ON THE TRACY MORGAN CRASH
TRUCK DRIVER WAS WITHIN 23 MINUTES of HOURS OF SERVICE LIMIT AT THE TIME OF THE CRASH PERTH AMBOY DESTINATION WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO FAR TO REACH IN TIME AT THE POSTED SPEED
Truck Driver Charged with Death by Auto and Assault by Auto for Causing the Crash that Killed One Man and Critically Injured Others, Including Actor Tracy Morgan
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 19, 2014)—The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released an initial report on the crash that killed comedian James McNair and critically injured others, including actor Tracy Morgan, on the New Jersey Turnpike. The NTSB found that the driver of the Wal-Mart truck, Kevin Roper, 35, had logged over 13 hours, and was just under the maximum 14-hour limit for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Roper was within 23 minutes of his hours of service limits at the time of the crash and would have failed to reach his Perth Amboy destination before exceeding the allowable hours of service limits.
“The NTSB’s preliminary findings in this case clearly show that truck drivers are pushing beyond the limits of the current hours of service rules,” said Teamsters General President, James P. Hoffa. “In light of these findings, it would be irresponsible to even consider rolling back hours of service rules and opening the door to increased driver fatigue.”
The NTSB findings come as the Senate is about to vote on the Booker Amendment to stop tired trucking. This amendment is introduced by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and 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 the restart provision in the hours of service rule ensuring that truck drivers get adequate rest and maintaining the current maximum 60-70 hours per week. The amendment was introduced as a response to the Collins Amendment, which would increase the truck driver weekly work week to over 80 hours.
Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), said, “It is tragic and unfortunate that it took a horrific crash caused by a dozing truck driver killing one person and severely injuring Tracy Morgan and others to bring national attention to the epidemic of fatigued truck drivers on our roads. These truck drivers are being pushed beyond their limits to work 70 hour work weeks, and now Senator Collins wants to increase this time to more than 80 hours. The Collins Amendment is not a solution to tired truckers but a gift to trucking industry allies. It’s time to put the brakes on these rolling sweatshops. Not a single safety organization supports the Collins Amendment but every major highway and truck safety organization supports Senator Booker’s amendment, cosponsored by fourteen additional Senators. It is absolutely clear which amendment is on the side of safety.”
Jacqueline Gillan, President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, stated, “Truck drivers should be sleeping in beds and not behind the wheel of an 80,000 lb. rig traveling at high speeds. Sen. Collins’ proposal will turn back the clock to a time when truck drivers only had one day and 10 hours off between 80 hour driving and working shifts. It was under this grueling schedule that a 2005 survey of truck drivers showed that almost half admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel and 65% admitted to driving drowsy. Not a single safety group has endorsed the Collins Amendment. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety strongly supports the Booker Amendment and urges the Senate to put safety first.”
The issue of truck driver fatigue is very personal to Daphne Izer, Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), who lost her son Jeff Izer, 17, in a preventable truck crash by a fatigued truck driver. Izer said, “No loss of life is worth getting a load of freight delivered on time. Truck driver fatigue has been a serious safety issue for over 70 years and we need to uphold the ongoing efforts to improve this safety issue, not make it worse, which is why I support the Booker Amendment.”
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.
THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION AND OUR VOLUNTEERS RESPOND TO THE PASSING OF FORMER CONGRESSMAN JAMES L. OBERSTAR
Arlington, VA (May 5, 2014): 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 former Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, James L. Oberstar (MN-8), and would like to express our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and to the citizens of Minnesota. Chairman Oberstar received the Truck Safety Coalition Distinguished Service Award in 2011 for his tremendous commitment to advancing truck safety policy and for being a true champion for truck crash victims and survivors.
Nancy Meuleners, TSC Volunteer Advocate from Minnesota who was seriously injured in 1989 when she encountered a semi-trailer with inadequate rear underride protection stopped in the lane of traffic ahead of her without its emergency flashers illuminated, said of Chairman Oberstar’s passing, “What Chairman Oberstar has done for transportation safety has undoubtedly saved countless lives and made our roads safer for not only those in his beloved home state of Minnesota but across the nation. He understood the dire state of our roads and bridges and worked tirelessly to improve our nation’s infrastructure. His quick response after the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota in August 2007 helped ensure that a new, stronger bridge was in place almost exactly a year later and highlighted the necessity to examine the state of aging bridges throughout the country.”
Jennifer Tierney, Board Member for CRASH, after her father, James Mooney, was killed when he crashed into a truck that did not have working lights, reflective tape or underride guards and was blocking the roadway said, “The transportation world lost a true giant and leading safety advocate this weekend. Chairman Oberstar was instrumental in working to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the motor carrier industry. Many of the provisions implemented in MAP-21 were in legislation proposed by Chairman Oberstar like minimum entry-level training requirements for commercial vehicle drivers and a drug and alcohol national clearinghouse for commercial motor vehicle drivers to reduce hiring of drivers who decline or fail drug or alcohol testing. My hope is that Members of Congress will find inspiration in all that he has worked toward in keeping our roads safe and continue his legacy.”
Daphne Izer, founder of PATT after her son Jeff and three of his friends were killed in a truck crash, stated, “Chairman Oberstar was a true advocate for crash victims, survivors, and their families. He was deeply aware of the need for improvements to the truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rule and worked to have electronic on board recorders (now known as electronic logging devices) in all commercial vehicles to protect both the motoring public and over worked truck drivers. Throughout my twenty years of advocacy on behalf of PATT and the TSC, I had the honor of meeting with him numerous times and he showed a care and compassion to families of crash victims that was unparalleled and he will be missed.”
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.
Click here to view our letter.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”