Senator Booker Speaks Out on Truck Safety

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

The Safety Community and Teamsters Respond to NTSB Initial Crash Report on Tracy Morgan Crash

Contact: Beth Weaver 301.814.4088,/beth_weaver@verizon.net

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.”

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Press Conference Call: Senator Booker, Senator Blumenthal, Truck Crash Victims’ Families, Safety Groups, Law Enforcement, Labor Groups, Trucking Companies Unite in Opposition to Attack on Truck Safety

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088, Beth_weaver@verizon.net

PRESS CONFERENCE CALL

SENATOR BOOKER, SENATOR BLUMENTHAL, TRUCK CRASH VICTIMS’ FAMILIES, SAFETY GROUPS, LAW ENFORCEMENT, LABOR GROUPS, TRUCKING COMPANIES UNITE IN OPPOSITION TO ATTACK ON TRUCK SAFETY

Trucking Allies Pushing Sen. Collins’ Amendment to Take Away Truck Drivers “Weekends” of Rest and Replace With Another Day of Driving 

Senate to Debate FY 2015 THUD Appropriations Bill This Week

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Problem in the Trucking Industry – Collins Amendment is Not a “Minor Adjustment” But a “Major Assault” on Truck Safety

 Safety First – Every Minute and a Half of Every Day a Large Truck Crash Occurs

WHEN:           Tuesday, June 17th, 2:15 p.m. EST

WHAT:           Senators, safety groups, truck drivers, freight transportation companies, law enforcement, and victims of truck crashes involving fatigued drivers will discuss an amendment to strike the Collins Anti-Safety Amendment (which was passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations and is now part of the underlying bill).  The Collins amendment will change the current hours of service rule for truck drivers to replace off-duty rest time with on-duty driving hours.  “Weekend” rest period will be replaced with more driving hours.      

The Collins Amendment will suspend two important safety features of the truck driver Hours of Service (HOS) rule: 1. A limit on how often the 34-hour “restart” or rest period can be taken – once in a 168 hour or 7-day period, and 2. A requirement of two periods of rest between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. during the “restart.”  These two features were included in the truck driver HOS rule to address chronic fatigue that occurs when long haul truck drivers are behind the wheel of a truck for 11 continuous hours, working 14-hour shifts daily and were able to constantly put in up to 82 hours of work, week after week. The amendment to strike will retain these critical safety protections.

WHO:             Senator Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

Joan Claybrook, Consumer Co-Chair, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Lane Kidd, Managing Director, The Trucking Alliance

Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick USA and Chairman, The Trucking Alliance

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Steve Keppler, Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance representing commercial vehicle law enforcement 

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME) 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 the Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), and is a 2014 recipient of the White House’s Champions of Change award.

 Ron Wood (Washington, DC) Ron lost his mother, Betsy Wood, and his sister, Lisa Wood Martin, and his sister’s three children Chance (4), Brock (2) and Reid (6 weeks) Martin when a truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel, crossed a median and crashed into Lisa’s SUV and a pick-up truck.  A total of ten people were killed and one was seriously injured. The catastrophic outcome of the Wood family’s crash prompted a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

BACKGROUND:      

  • The current hours of service (HOS) rule for truck drivers allows truckers to drive 11 hours in a 14 hour work day and take a 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 new rule that only took effect in July 2013 requires that the 34 hour rest period include two periods of time off and rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.to ensure restorative sleep.  It also requires that the 34-hour restart be used not more than once every 168 hours or 7 days.  The Collins amendment will dramatically increase allowable driving and other work hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week, essentially adding another work day to an already long work week. The Collins amendment will suspend the safety requirement that prevents drivers from continually taking only short back-to-back rest periods after long weeks of driving and work.
  • 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.
  • 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 rule was issued by U.S. DOT after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and 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 – All Pushed Aside by an Amendment that was not Reviewed, Subject to a  Congressional Hearing or Available to the Public Before the Committee Mark-Up.
  • Changing the hours-of-service rules now, not even a year since becoming effective, creates significant uniformity and consistency problems across the country for law enforcement.
  • A 2000 study revealed that 65% of truck drivers report they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admit they fell asleep while driving in the previous year (Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study, U.S. DOT, 2000).

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