A Davis Man Died on I-80 Truck Wreck in Contra Costa County, CA

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

A Davis Man Died on I-80 Truck Wreck in Contra Costa County, CA

On April 21, 2016, at approximately 3:22 a.m., when Angela Valenzuela, 25 had to stop on I-80 freeway due to an earlier accident. As he is waiting for the flow of traffic to resume, Mr. Valenzuela was struck from behind by a tractor-trailer.

The truck and Mr. Valenzuela’s vehicle collided in an area of the highway where lanes blocked off for overnight Caltrans work.

According to CHP Officer Brandon Correia, the vehicles were pushed toward the center divider and careened back into traffic. Three more vehicles were then crashed while trying to avoid the first crash.

Mr. Valenzuela died at the scene. The crash is under investigation by the California 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

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

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THUD Bill with Tired Trucker Provision Passes House Committee

For Immediate Release: May 24, 2016

Contact:  Beth Weaver 301-814-4088, beth_weaver@verizon.net

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.

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Letter to the editor: Sen. Collins puts trucking industry profits before public safety

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.

Joan Claybrook

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Washington, D.C.

Link: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/20/letter-to-the-editor-sen-collins-puts-trucking-industry-profits-before-public-safety/

Op-Ed: Truckers’ hours are long enough

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?

Link to Article: http://www.poconorecord.com/opinion/20160518/truckers-hours-are-long-enough

Congress Is Using Zika To Weaken Truck Safety

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.

Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/congress-zika-truck-safety_us_573cfc0ae4b0646cbeec1b89

Appropriations Trickery in Congress

It is an old congressional ritual: loading up vital spending bills that are meant to keep the government running with dangerous amendments aimed at satisfying ideological causes and benefiting special interests.

The Republicans have become adept at this practice in recent years, and this year is no different. Legislative riders attached to appropriations bills would undermine the Iran nuclear deal, weaken highway safety and reduce the Food and Drug Administration’s authority over tobacco products.

These measures would be unlikely to succeed as stand-alone bills, either because they could not get enough votes on their own or because President Obama would veto them. So better to sneak them in without even holding hearings to make a case on their behalf.

Thankfully, Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups are calling attention to these stealth attacks. In the Senate, Democrats managed on Wednesday to block a vote on a water and energy spending bill after Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, tried to attach a provision that would have dealt a severe blow to the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Cotton’s measure would have blocked the administration from purchasing heavy water used in Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran has to get rid of the water to comply with the deal. By denying Iran an American market, Mr. Cotton and other Republicans hoped to undermine the deal, which they hate.

The Senate will soon consider a transportation bill containing a rider that could prevent the Department of Transportation from reinstating a rule aimed at making roads safer by requiring that truckers get adequate rest — two nights of rest after working 60 hours over seven consecutive days or 70 hours over eight consecutive days.

The rule took effect in July 2013, but it was suspended by Congress in December 2014. The rider bars the administration from reinstating the rule unless it can show that it produced a “statistically significant” improvement in safety and driver health during the brief time it was in place.

That is a ridiculously high burden to meet. If the provision becomes law, it will be impossible for the government to issue basic regulations to make sure companies are not putting dangerously tired drivers on the road.

And the House Appropriations Committee recently passed an agriculture and food spending bill that would make it very hard for the F.D.A. to regulate tobacco products. A rider attached in committee would forbid the agency from regulating “large and premium cigars”; another would rewrite a 2009 law that gave the agency the authority to approve or reject tobacco products that have entered the market after Feb. 15, 2007. This would include electronic cigarettes, for which the agency has proposed regulations.

To prevent the agency from taking e-cigarettes off the market and effectively grandfather them in, Republican lawmakers want to require pre-approval only for products that come out after the F.D.A. issues its final e-cigarette rules, which could be later this year. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the devices are now more popular than conventional cigarettes with middle- and high-school students.

Riders like these are not harmless passengers on legislative vehicles. They can and will do real damage if they are allowed to succeed.

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/opinion/appropriations-trickery-in-congress.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=1

Statement of Daphne Izer in Response to Senate Appropriations Committee Passing Industry-Written Provision to Rewrite Laws Affecting Truck Drivers’ Hours of Service

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.

Daphne Izer_2016 THUD Appropriations_Statement

Senate Prepares To Make Truck Safety Even Worse, Advocates Warn

The industry has given lawmakers language that will set 73-hour maximum work weeks for drivers.

04/19/2016 Michael McAuliff Senior Congressional Reporter, The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Safety advocates are crying foul over yet another change to trucking safety rules that the industry is trying to slide though Congress with no hearings, no public evaluation and no scientific study.

The move comes just days after The Huffington Post revealed that large trucking industry groups have spent the last several years quietly circumventing normal legislative procedures to win safety rule concessions — even as truck crashes have been on the rise.

Normally, transportation policy is decided by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. But failing to make progress there, the trucking industry seems to have persuaded the Appropriations Committee to add its policy provisions to spending bills.

In this case, according to advocates who have been briefed about the bill, the industry wrote a provision that will place some sort of cap on truckers’ work, keeping either driving or working hours to 73 per week.

Exactly what the cap — which is about 30 hours more than most Americans work each week — would mean is not completely clear. Representatives for Democratic and Republican leaders on the committee declined to make the language available to HuffPost, saying it will be public after the full committee considers the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill for 2017 this Thursday.

“They are writing law in a spending bill. They are completely bypassing the Commerce Committee,” said Jackie Gillian, the president Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Gillian says the measure appears to have been written by the American Trucking Associations, a industry lobbying group. If the move succeeds, if could permanently change rest rules for increasingly beleaguered truck drivers — with no public input, no scientific evaluation and no discussion with regulators.

“It is like the worse of all possible worlds,” Gillian said. “The idea that the ATA has come in and written into law what they want done — I mean, can you imagine if this were the Federal Aviation Administration?”

The ATA did not say whether it wrote the new measure, though it offered comment on it and seemed to know what language it contained.

Ironically, the new provision is being dropped into a spending bill in an effort to correct confusion over another measure that was added through the appropriations committee, also without hearings or vetting.

The ATA first managed to get Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to write legislation in 2014 to temporarily suspend rest rules that took effect in July 2013, which required drivers to get two nights of sleep and capped their working hours at 70 per week.

Collins’ one-year suspension also required a study of making drivers get two nights of sleep in a row as part of their weekly mandated 34-hour break, known as a restart. But the industry was unsatisfied. It won further modifications in 2015 for this year’s spending bill that made the study more complicated, and said that if the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did not write new rules based on the study, the rules would revert to the old ones.

The problem was the language didn’t clarify which older rules it was referring to, meaning regulators could be turning back to mandates from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration that capped drivers’ hours at 60 a week — much more rest than under the modern system.

An ATA spokesman said the new 73-hour cap is meant to address this confusion.

“What the Senate language appears to do is retain the ability of drivers to reset their work weeks by taking an extended 34-hour off-duty period, with the recognition they are still limited to 73 hours of work (both driving and other work time) in seven calendar days,” Sean McNally said in an emailed comment.

“We appreciate the recognition by the Senate THUD subcommittee that the legislative drafting error from 2016 needs to be fixed,” he added.

McNally downplayed advocates’ concerns about over-tried truckers.

“ATA also knows that while professional truck drivers do not work wildly inflated weekly work hours that anti-truck groups claim, we understand the Subcommittee’s sensitivity to claims a handful of drivers might abuse the restart rule to work long hours in a week,” McNally said. “We look forward to working with members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle to ensure that professional truck drivers continue to have the opportunity to get extended off-duty rest periods that reset their work week.”

The issue seems to have left Democratic Senators in a difficult position. While they would prefer the 2013 rules that gave truckers two nights of sleep, they also fear they don’t have the votes to block the 73-hour week.

Safety advocates told HuffPost that the ATA had tried to attach a 75-hour week to the Commerce Committee’s FAA bill that passed the Senate Thursday, but the measure was blocked.

Senate staff also declined to give the safety advocates copies of the new measure’s language, which would reveal specifically what the impact would be.

Gillian believed the reason is because the implications will not be good.

“They won’t release the sub-committee draft because they know what’s in there, and they know safety groups will go nuts,” Gillian said.

“This is their [the trucking industry’s] most bold and anti-safety measure yet,” she added.

Link to Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/truck-safety-rules_us_57166a82e4b0018f9cbb3d28

Two People Critically Injured Due to Truck Crash in Licking County, Ohio

April 14, 2016

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.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP

Two Dead after Truck Crash in Henry County, KY

April 14, 2016

On April 12, 2016, at approximately 4:00 a.m., the driver, identified as Jordan Mefford, 23, and his girlfriend, Jacqueline Hayes, 26, were driving southbound on I-71 in Henry County when a tractor-trailer traveling north crossed the median and struck their vehicle.

Jacqueline Hayes was pronounced dead at the scene and Jordan Mefford was airlifted to University of Louisville Hospital for treatment, but later died that night due to his injuries.

The driver of the tractor trailer was also taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment. The crash is under investigation by the Kentucky State Police.

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.

To find more information please visit the website: http://www.trucksafety.org or send an email to info@trucksafety.org

                                                           WE ARE HERE TO HELP