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

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

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.

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