TSC Comments on Regulatory Review

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

TSC Comments on Regulatory Review

These comments are filed jointly by the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) and our volunteers, who are the family and friends of truck crash victims and survivors seeking truck safety advances, in response to the Department of Transportation’s (DOT, Department) request for comments on the Department’s review of “its existing regulations and other agency actions to evaluate their continued necessity, determine whether they are crafted effectively to solve current problems, and evaluate whether they potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.”

Our comments will focus on the following regulations and agency actions:

Finalize Rulemakings:

o   Automatic Emergency Braking

o   Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

o   Rear and Side Underride Guards

Fully Implement Final Rules:

o   Electronic Logging Device

o   Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

o   Increasing the Minimum Insurance Levels

o   Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

Modify Rulemakings:

o   Entry Level Driver Training

 

Finalize Rulemakings:

Automatic Emergency Braking

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is a technology that has been proven, both by companies and other countries, to make roads safer as it can reduce the number of crashes truck drivers are involved in and mitigate the severity of a crash. NHTSA should finalize this rulemaking immediately.

This technology is no longer “new.”  The European Union mandated AEB on large trucks back in 2012, requiring all new trucks to be equipped with it by 2015. In the United States, motor carriers have been using AEB long enough to establish beyond question its effectiveness and reliability.  For example, one trucking company saw their number of rear-end collisions decrease by nearly 80 percent from 2003 to 2015 after equipping their fleet with an active system of collision avoidance and mitigation.

Additionally, Con-way (now a part of XPO Logistics) performed an internal study to determine the extent to which a suite of safety technologies (AEB, electronic stability control (ESC), and lane departure warning) installed on the trucks in its fleet reduced the frequency of various types of collisions.  This study collected data over a 30-month period on approximately 12,600 trucks.  The results were clear and compelling: trucks equipped with the suite of safety systems had a lower crash rate and frequency of engagement in risky driving behavior compared to vehicles without such systems; these trucks exhibited a 71 percent reduction in rear-end collisions and a 63 percent decrease in unsafe following behaviors.

Thousands of American trucks nationwide have been equipped with AEB for nearly a decade, and AEB has been required on large trucks by the European Union since 2012 and it took effect in 2015. In other words, most of the major truck manufacturers have begun including this technology in the trucks that they sell in the European market or in the cars that their company produces.

The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) has stated that they “strongly recommend that all vehicles (light and heavy) be equipped with forward collision warning and mitigation braking technology.”  As you know, rear-end crashes constitute some of the most horrific and catastrophic crashes imaginable, and they occur much too often.  We believe that equipping all new trucks with AEB is the responsible and reasonable thing to do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) own estimate include that forward collision avoidance and mitigation systems can prevent thousands of crashes each year. This rulemaking needs to be finalized now and should apply to all trucks. With every year that implementation of this technology is delayed, hundreds, if not thousands, will unnecessarily die and even more will suffer serious injuries.

Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

The FMCSA and NHTSA must finalize this life-saving, cost-effective rule without further delay.

Data from the Department of Transportation shows that speeding-related fatalities account for nearly one out of three traffic fatalities in the United States each year. That coupled with the facts that truck crashes, injuries, and fatalities have steadily increased unabated since 2009, does not bode well for safety on our roads. Finalizing a final rule requiring all trucks to have a speed limiter set at 65mph or less will help reverse the aforementioned trends.

The agencies have delayed progress on this commonsense rulemaking more than 20 times since they granted a petition to initiate rulemaking back in 2011. To make matters worse, the Administration’s recently released Unified Agenda identified the rulemaking as a long-term action item, meaning that the agencies require a minimum of 12 months to produce their next action. In other words, this is yet another delay.

The delays, however, are ludicrous for several reasons. For one, speed-limiting devices have been built into most large trucks dating back to the 1990s, according the agencies’ joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Thus, there is no capital expense required to simply turn on and use them on trucks with this technology. The NPRM also notes that the heavy vehicle speed limiter rule will produce a net benefit of more than $1.1 billion and can save up to an estimated 500 lives each year. Given these compelling numbers, combined with the fact that Ontario saw at-fault speeding-related truck crashes fall by 73 percent and fatalities in all crashes involving big rigs dropped 24 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology took effect there, we cannot comprehend the agencies inaction and lack of urgency.

As the NTSB notes in a recent report, Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles, mandating heavy vehicle speed limiters is commonsense and cost-effective solution that will prevent injuries and save lives in crashes involving large trucks.

Rear and Side Underride Guards

The federal government should require all trucks and trailers to be equipped with energy-absorbing rear and side underride guards to protect car occupants from underride crashes. Truck underride crashes can be catastrophic because the car goes under the trailer, bypassing the crumple zone and airbag deployment safety features; in severe collisions, passenger compartment intrusion occurs.

The safety benefits of rear underride guards are proven and well known. In fact, seven of the eight leading trailer manufacturers have developed rear underride guards that qualify for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) ToughGuard rating, which greatly exceeds the proposed federal standard by preventing underride crashes at 100, 50, and 30 percent overlaps at 35 mph. It is expected that all eight leading trailer manufacturers will be ToughGuard certified by December 31, 2017.

The NTSB has continually issued multiple recommendations for improved rear underride guards and for side underride protection systems. In addition, the NTSB identified the need for improved data collection, including vehicle identification numbers to better evaluate trailer design and the impact on safety.

NHTSA reported that large truck rear impacts comprised 22 percent of fatal two-vehicle collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles during 2015.  IIHS crash tests demonstrated that the rear underride guards mandated for trailers by NHTSA in 1998 performed poorly, and that there are available underride guards that far exceed the proposed force requirement by up to 70 percent.

NHTSA has also 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.

Unfortunately, since granting petitions for rulemaking back in 2014, NHTSA has taken no action, aside from delaying, the NPRM for rear underride guards on trailers and the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) for rear guards for single unit trucks. Additionally, the agency has taken no action to evaluate side underride guards.

Fully Implement Final Rules

Electronic Logging Device (ELD)

TSC opposes any attempt to delay this life-saving regulation or to allow exemptions for specific industries or special interests.

Updating the methodology by which drivers record their hours of service is long overdue. ELD technology will reduce the ability of bad actors to skirt federal regulations by modernizing the practice of logging hours. This mandate will also protect truck drivers from being coerced to exceed the hours they are allowed to operate because ELDs automatically record driving time, and therefore truck drivers cannot circumvent compliance by simply writing down false hours. It is important to note that this regulation makes no changes to the existing Hours of Services rules.

Additionally, the ELD mandate will enhance law enforcement officers’ capacity to enforce HOS restrictions and expedite the process of reviewing a truck driver’s logbook. This potential benefit of the ELD rulemaking would be blunted, however, if the agency allows exemptions as it would create confusion for law enforcement officers. The shift from paperwork to electronic logging will save not only time, but also it will produce a benefit or more than $1 billion, according to the FMCSA.

After working for more than two decades to produce a final rule that requires large trucks to be equipped with Electronic Logging Devices, the Truck Safety Coalition opposes any further delay or exemptions to the mandate. Instead of focusing on the costs of this regulation, which cost less than replacing a few truck tires, we should all be more concerned about truck driver fatigue – a preventable problem that kills and injures far too many each people year. There has been ample time for members of the industry to transition from paper logbooks to electronic logging devices, especially considering that there are a plenty of companies from which they can purchase an ELD device.

The ELD Final Rule will save an estimated 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from large truck crashes each year. We cannot fathom why anyone would direct an agency, whose mission is to promote safety, to consider a delay that would result in an estimated 130 fatalities and 2,810 injuries over five years, which was recently requested.

Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

The Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse 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 are currently a major risk to everyone with whom they share the road. Under the soon-to-be-replaced system of self-reporting, many employers were unable to access the necessary 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.

All too often, a history of repeated drug and alcohol violations is not discovered until a catastrophic crash occurs and a comprehensive investigation ensues.  So long as this rule is fully implemented without delay, this will no longer be the case.

Reintroduce Rulemakings:

Increasing the Minimum Level of Insurance

 The withdrawal of a long overdue ANPRM to increase the minimum financial responsibility requirements for motor carriers was extremely disappointing, and the agency should reintroduce this rulemaking at once.

The fact of that matter is that the minimum level of insurance required by trucks per incident has not been increased since 1980. It has not been adjusted for inflation or, more appropriately, for medical cost inflation. The results of these decades of inaction are devastating. Families must face the financial impact of under-insured truckers along with the emotional and physical destruction. The failure to raise the required amount of minimum insurance allows chameleon carriers to enter the market, with no underwriting, and simply close down and reincorporate under a new name following a catastrophic crash.

Yet, this issue not only impacts survivors and families of truck crash victims; it affects all taxpayers. Insurance is supposed to address the actual damages caused. When there is an insufficient payout, families are forced to declare bankruptcy or rely on government programs after being financially drained. The costs of healthcare, property, and lost income for all parties involved in a truck crash can greatly exceed $750,000 per event, and all of these costs are much higher today than they were in 1980. The unpaid costs are then passed on to taxpayers. In other words, maintaining the grossly inadequate minimum privatizes profits but socializes the costs of underinsured trucking.

Moreover, if the mandate for minimum insurance is to remain a significant incentive for carriers to operate safely as Congress intended, it must be updated to reflect the current realities of the industry. Because the minimum insurance requirements have not kept pace with inflation, the $750,000 per event has become a disincentive for unsafe motor carriers to improve and maintain the safety of their operations. Additionally, raising the minimum amount of insurance will motivate insurers to apply a higher level of scrutiny in determining which motor carriers they insure.

What is even more frustrating and confusing about this decision to walk away from this rulemaking is that the DOT fully acknowledges that $750,000 is an insufficient amount to cover one person’s life. The Department uses a value of statistical life of $9.6 million. This is a figure the DOT defines “as the additional cost that individuals would be willing to bear for improvements in safety (that is, reductions in risks) that, in the aggregate, reduce the expected number of fatalities by one,” and updates to account for changes in prices and real income. Clearly, the DOT has determined that not only is a single life worth more than $750,000 but that it benefits the American public to ensure that these values are indexed to inflation.

The FMCSA’s decision to forego pursuing a commonsense approach to enhancing safety on our roads and leveling the playing field in our nation’s trucking industry is deeply troubling, but unfortunately, it is yet another data point to demonstrate the agency’s dereliction of duty and lack of direction. If the agency fails to reintroduce this rulemaking, we call on the Secretary of Transportation to take immediate action to increase the minimum insurance requirement and to index it to inflation, which she is empowered to do under the law. This way, the amount will be increased periodically and apolitically.

Sleep Apnea Screening and Testing

 The FMCSA’s withdrawal of a rulemaking that would establish requirements for sleep apnea screening is another demonstration of the agency’s denial of data, and it is a serious error that should be remedied as quickly as possible.

Sleep apnea is not a made-up affliction; it is a scientifically proven sleep disorder that causes a brief interruption of breathing during sleep. People with sleep apnea are at risk of becoming fatigued as their body and brain are deprived of oxygen and the restorative effects of sleep. Undiagnosed, this chronic disorder can be debilitating to a driver’s health and make him or her a danger to others on the road. It affects approximately five percent of the general population, and up to 50 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers.

Policymakers at the FMCSA need to do more to eradicate fatigue as a factor that causes truck crashes, including preventing truckers with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) from getting behind the wheel and driving tired because of their sleep disorder. In fact, truck drivers who fail adhere to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to get involved in a crash than a truck driver who is on treatment.

Modify Rulemakings:

Entry Level Driver Training

 The FMCSA’s latest attempt to produce an entry-level driver training rule for commercial motor vehicle drivers was a major waste of time as the this final rule does not include a minimum number of hours required behind the wheel.

After languishing for 25 years following a mandate from Congress, TSC was hopeful that the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), comprised of law enforcement, safety advocates, and industry, would be able to produce a negotiated rulemaking that included a minimum number of behind-the-wheel (BTW) training hours. After a number of meetings, a proposed rule was negotiated that included both a theoretical curriculum and a 30-hour minimum of BTW training. Unfortunately, the years of waiting and the participation of the ELDTAC committee was for naught. The final rule does not mandate a minimum number of BTW training hours, severely blunting the potential safety benefits of it. It should.

Without a minimum BTW training hours requirement, the agency will not be able to ensure that commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants have had actual time behind-the-wheel to learn safe operations of a truck. Requiring a set number of hours to ensure that a licensee is sufficiently educated in his or her profession is common for far less deadly and injurious jobs, such as barbers and real estate salespersons. Even other transportation-related professions, like pilots, are required by the Federal Aviation Administration to complete more than 250 hours of flight time – their version of BTW training. Unfortunately, the FMCSA opted for a Pyrrhic victory that allowed them to check the box for finalizing one of their many unfinished, overdue, and much-needed rulemakings instead of producing a final rule that would do as their mission states: “reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.”

Given the overlap between trucking companies and training programs, and an industry turnover rate above 90 percent, the FMCSA is naïve to think that a BTW training standard based solely on a driver-trainee’s ‘proficiency’ will result in needed training and practice behind the wheel. The driver-trainees will be forced to complete BTW training at the pace of the training school they attend or the trucking company that runs it, which can lead to CDL mills.

Conclusion

Over the past year, it has become clear that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the current administration have no intention of producing meaningful mandates that will “solve current problems,” and every intention of removing regulations for the sake of removing regulations. The Administration has made no mention of the 4,317 people killed in 2016, or the fact that the number of truck crash fatalities has increased by 28 percent since 2009. The President has not even nominated someone to run NHTSA and his nominee for FMCSA administrator has yet to be confirmed. The DOT has not offered a single solution to address the rising number of truck crashes or the fact that driving a truck is constantly one of the deadliest jobs in America. Yet, this administration has already withdrawn two rulemakings and delayed four rulemakings – all of which could have improved truck safety. We hope the DOT will do more to promote safety in the public interest rather than catering to special interests.

Docket DOT-OST-2017-0069

Comments Submitted 12/01/2017

Regulatory Review | 82 Federal Register 45750, October 2, 2017

TRUCK CRASH SURVIVORS AND VICTIMS URGE FMCSA ADMINISTRATOR NOMINEE TO PRIORITIZE TRUCK SAFETY

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

WASHINGTON, DC (October 31, 2017) Today, truck safety victims and survivors attended the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation nomination hearing of Raymond Martinez for the position of Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They are here to call attention to the seven-year increase in truck crash fatalities and the need for the agency to finalize key rulemakings that it has delayed or withdrawn since January 2017.

With 4,317 truck fatalities on from truck crashes on our nation’s highways last year, the Truck Safety Coalition and their volunteers are here to remind lawmakers and get a commitment from the nominee for FMCSA Administrator to prioritize truck safety mandates that will reduce crashes and make truck crashes less deadly.

“I swam more than the length of a football field after a truck slammed into the back of my car and sent it plunging nearly three stories into the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, too many people are not as fortunate as I was to survive a crash resulting from a truck driver failing to stop in time before rear-ending another vehicle,” noted Morgan Lake, of Bowie, Maryland. “In order to reduce these types of crashes, the FMCSA should enhance the entry-level driver training rule to require a minimum number of hours behind the wheel so that truck drivers have actual driving experience in different conditions, including work zones, where trucks were involved in 27 percent of fatal crashes in 2016.”

Dawn King, President of the Truck Safety Coalition, flew in from Davisburg, Michigan to bring attention to the FMCSA’s lack of action: “After my father was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep behind the wheel, I began advocating for commonsense legislation and regulations that would prevent truck driver fatigue. Considering that one study estimates that up to half of commercial motor vehicles have sleep apnea, and that undiagnosed sleep apnea can result in truck drivers falling asleep while operating big rigs, it is unreasonable for the agency to have withdrawn this rulemaking. If confirmed, I want to know what the Administrator plans to do to address truck driver fatigue.”

“The crash that killed my wife Susan and injured my boys did not need to happen,” said Ed Slattery, a board member of Parents Against Tired Truckers. “A driver operating a triple tractor-trailer fell asleep, but sadly the involvement of a tired trucker is not unique to my family’s crash. In order to eradicate drowsy driving as a factor, the FMCSA must fully enforce the Electronic Logging Device mandate, which is set to take effect in December 2017, while also finalizing the heavy vehicle speed limiter rule, which has languished since 2011. Using these technologies in concert will prevent bad actors from engaging in dangerous driving behaviors, like speeding or driving in excess of their hours of service, to make a delivery. We cannot allow crashes to become accepted as a cost of doing business, but the sad reality remains that truck crashes have increased by 45 percent since 2009.”

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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Underride Roundtable 2015

The Truck Safety Coalition co-hosted the first ever Underride Roundtable at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safetys testing facility in Ruckersville, VA. The conference brought together researchers, safety advocates, government officials, and industry leaders to discuss truck underride crashes, examine the scope of the problem, and determine how to reduce the risks for passenger vehicle occupants through regulation and voluntary action. A crash test was also conducted to demonstrate improved underride guards.

underride roundtable 2015

“This conference is a critical milestone in the decades-long effort to strengthen underride protections for large trucks to prevent needless injuries and fatalities,” said John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition. “We hope that today’s discussion will spur swift industry and government action on underride which has long been recognized as a major safety issue.”

John Lannen continued, “Reviewing the research underscored startling data that demonstrate the need for long-overdue action to prevent underride crashes. At this conference, however, we did not stop at identifying the issues. We also worked to identify common ground to create commonsense reforms that have a meaningful impact on safety.”

At the conference, Jennifer Tierney, a board member of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), presented the Distinguished Safety Leadership Award to Greer Woodruff, Senior Vice President of Safety, Security, and Driver Personnel of J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Inc. for his outstanding and longtime dedication to improving truck safety.

“I have been advocating for stronger underride guards after my father, James Mooney, was killed in a truck underride crash thirty-three years ago. While many lives would have been saved had there been action following his death, this Underride Roundtable is major step in the right direction” stated Jennifer Tierney. “I look forward to working with government and industry officials as a member of the Underride Initiative at the Truck Safety Coalition to achieve a goal of zero underride crashes.”

Were you unable to attend the Underride Roundtable? View the entire event here: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1100569

Truck Safety Awards – Press Release

Articles on Underride Roundtable

Underride Roundtable Pictures

The roundtable was organized and sponsored by

IIHS, the Truck Safety Coalition and Annaleah & Mary for Truck Safety

TSC Logo

Truck Accidents

Truck Accidents that Occurred in 2014 and 2015

Truck Accidents – 2015

Texas truck driver dies in six-vehicle crash on I-81

Tractor-trailer crashes into Tyrone dam and pond

Tractor Trailer Crashes Into Car And Wall On Thruway

4 people die when semi smashes into car in eastern Iowa

Police Identify Two Killed In Saturday Crash On I-95 In Old Lyme

Funeral set for Bartow County missionary killed by tractor-trailer

Driver cited in tractor trailer crash that closed section of I-78

Howe truck driver in critical condition after Monday wreck in Emmett

Two vehicles damaged by semi in downtown accident

UPDATE: Police identify driver killed in Bypass crash

Truck driver flown to hospital after fiery crash

Tractor-trailer truck dumps Poland Spring water on turnpike

Woman killed in Route 30 crash in Reisterstown

Truck driver dies in I-80 crash

Fire, crash causes damage to 3 semi-trucks, closes I-76 between Keenesburg and Wiggins

Wreck involving tractor-trailer kills 1 on I-40

‘Everything was burning,’ says witness of crash that injured 3 on M-14

Semi driver injured after crashing on Outer Loop

Man dies, trucker jailed after multi-vehicle crash on I-75

Names released in Friday motorcycle crash

Highway Patrol: stray tire caused grocery truck crash on I-77

Saratoga county man overdoses at the wheel, revived and arrested

Coffee Blamed For Semi-Truck Accident Near Brush

Victim Identified In Crash That Shutdown I-85 for 13 Hours

Coroner identifies tractor-trailer driver killed in crash

Suspected Drunk Trucker Charged after Feliberto Sepeda Killed in Semi-Truck Accident

Pickup driver walks away from wreck with semi in Alaska

Pedestrians injured when semi cuts corner in NE Portland

Three dead, five injured in 18-wheeler crash on I-35

55-year-old on bike dies after being struck by semi in Westmoreland County

Tractor-trailer hits minivan head-on, kills passenger

One killed, one injured in tractor trailer accident

Firefighters Injured, 2 Arrested in Deadly Crashes in Irving

Tavares man critically injured in St. Lucie County crash

Glenview Man Dies In South Dakota Motorcycle Accident

Driver rescued after his semi-truck rolls off Interstate 5, starts brush fire

Center Grove mother, two young children among five people killed in crash on I-65 in Tippecanoe County, interstate closed

Vehicle collision with semi kills one near Ritzville

Crews On Scene Of Multi-Vehicle Crash Involving Semi In South OKC

Semi loaded with produce crashes on I-15; traffic backup leads to 3-vehicle collision

Three suffer minor injuries in tractor-trailer collides with vehicle, then house

Crash into fire truck shows why Florida’s Move Over law is important

LSP: Metairie man dies in crash on Interstate 12

2 hurt in 18-wheeler accident in north Houston

Tractor-trailer crashes into passenger vehicle on U.S. 58 in Suffolk

Woman’s Car Overturned by Tractor Trailer in Mercer County

Semi driver dies following US-24 crash, fire

[Crash] injures Casey woman

Family remembers tractor-trailer wreck victim

Truck driver likely fell asleep before I-5 crash

Driver dies in Kansas semi accident

Two Die In Tractor-Trailer Crash Near Gravette

2 dead, 4 injured after truck hits motorcycles along Interstate 85 in Guilford County

Collision Course: With Wary Eye on Big Trucks, Bike Riders Seek Safe Space on City Streets

UPDATE: Two children among six dead in I-75 crash; driver identified

Amtrak train collides with truck carrying bacon near Wilmington

JBLM soldier, family killed in Texas crash

1 dead, 3 injured in Salado bridge crash

Victims in I-75 [Fedex Double Tractor Trailer] crash identified

5 dead in another crash on interstate near Savannah

5 Nursing Students Killed in Georgia Interstate Crash

Man faces involuntary manslaughter in fatal I-80 accident

Worker Killed Outside Argyle H.S. Was Hit By Semi Driven By His Dad

Background of truck driver involved in deadly crash reveals previous concerns

2-truck crash kills 2 Sunday on Alligator Alley

Left lane of turnpike reopens to eastbound traffic after fatal crash in Portage County

Fiery Tanker Crash, Explosion Shuts Down I-94 Near Detroit-Dearborn Border

Officials: Truck driver fell asleep in fatal Washington bus crash

Second victim dies after Peace River Bridge crash

A week after Metrolink train crashes into truck, engineer dies

Church raising money for crash victims’ father

1 killed in north Phoenix semi crash involving semi, 2nd truck

Woman hit, killed by semi-truck in Otsego

1 dead in truck, car crash on Interstate 287 in Mahwah

Winnsboro woman dies in head-on crash

One Dead, Two Injured After Four Semis Crash on I-49

I-45 Fatality

Woman killed in crash at entrance to I-95 in Yulee

At least 1 dead in 150-car pileup in Michigan

Man Wedged Between Semi Trucks Survives Massive I-84 Pileup Crash

Elgin woman killed in OK panhandle crash

Missouri truck crash kills N.J. man on New Year’s Eve

Truck Accidents – 2014

2014 Was A Banner Year For Food Spills On Highways

FedEx truck overturns on New Jersey highway, spills packages 

Chain reaction I-10 crash in Hancock County kills 4, injures 4

Arizona freeway crash: truck loses control, kills 4

Tired Trucker Tears Baltimore County Family Apart

Double-fatal crash near Huntley

One Killed in Monroe County Crash

I-59 Accident Takes Four Lives

Fiery Crash in Kaufman County Kills Three

3 killed, 13 Hurt in I-57 Crash

Woman Killed Friday in Crash on Indiana 49

Crash Devastates a Kentucky Family

Two killed, Four Injured in Multiple Vehicle Crash

Shadyside man killed in bizarre I-470 Crash

Woman Struck, Killed by Tractor Trailer

Truck Accidents

*A new version of the AP Stylebook was made available on June 1, 2016. One of the notable changes was the guidance the book offers on when to call a collision an “accident.” According to two tweets from AP Stylebook, “when negligence is claimed or proven, [journalists should] avoid accident, which can be read as exonerating the person,” and “instead, use crash, collision or other terms.”

TSC welcomes this effort to change the conversation about crashes, but we are also aware that many people use the word “accident” when looking for more information about a crash, which is why we have left it on this page. We will continue supporting efforts to Drop the “A” Word and push for “crash or collision” to be the default word used by journalists.

Link to Article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/04/04/associated-press-cautions-journalists-that-crashes-arent-always-accidents/

truck accidents.

truck accidents.

Statement of the Truck Safety Coalition for the Record – Hearing on: FAST Act Implementation: Improving the Safety of the Nation’s Roads

Hearing on: FAST Act Implementation: Improving the Safety of the Nation’s Roads

Subcommittee on Highways and Transit

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

United States House of Representatives

July 18, 2017

Thank you Members of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit for holding this important hearing on the safety of the nation’s roads. The Truck Safety Coalition is dedicated to reducing the number of lives lost and injuries sustained in large truck crashes.

Since 2009, the number of truck crashes has increased by 45 percent, and the number of truck crash injuries and fatalities have gone up by 57 percent and 20 percent, respectively. The number of truck vehicle miles traveled, however, has decreased by 3 percent in that same time. Moreover, in 2009, the European Union had a greater number of truck crash fatalities than the United States, but in 2014, the last available year for comparable data, they recorded less truck crash fatalities than the United States. While the European Union continues to utilize lifesaving technologies, the United States continues to remain behind adoption of many of these technologies.

The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that its mission is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic cost due to road traffic crashes. The agency notes that 94 percent of serious crashes are due to human error. In their budget proposal, NHTSA also notes, the development of a new standard for stability control is estimated to prevent a significant number of rollover crashes involving tractor-trailers and motor coaches. In addition, stability control systems provide a technology foundation for forward collision avoidance and mitigation (FCAM) systems that hold the promise for substantial reductions in rear-end crashes involving heavy vehicles. Given the agency’s positive view about the potential safety benefits of electronic stability control, both as a stand-alone safety system as well as a basic building block of highly automated vehicles, we are concerned that it is considering electronic stability control for heavy vehicles as an area for deregulatory actions.

Additionally, speed limiter technology already exists in almost all trucks manufactured since the 1990s, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that mandating that speed limiters be set on large trucks would result in a net benefit. In fact, a recently released study by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that found that speed-related, at-fault truck crashes fell by 73 percent after mandatory speed limiter technology took effect in Ontario.

Unfortunately, the agency continues to delay and neglects to commit to finalizing a rule this year. The Administration’s recently released Unified Agenda revealed that FMCSA and NHTSA designated the Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiter rule as a long-term action item, meaning that the agencies need a minimum of 12 months to make progress on the rule. This delay directly defies an amendment offered by Senator Johnny Isakson that was included in the FY 17 Senate THUD Appropriations bill, which directed the Secretary to promulgate a final rule within six-months of the bill’s enactment.

This is not the only area that the new Administration has decided to kick the can on regulations that will prevent injuries and save lives. The Unified Agenda also revealed that rulemakings that would strengthen requirements for rear underride guards on trailers and require single unit trucks to be equipped with them were also moved to the long-term action list. At a time when we are seeing major trailer manufacturers go above and beyond the government’s proposed standard for rear underride guards, the government should not be backing away from this lifesaving technology. If anything, the agency tasked with promulgating this rulemaking should be looking for ways to maximize the potential safety benefits by accounting for the new developments in underride protections.

Link: https://transportation.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=401738 

 

Truckers Win Fight to Keep Insurance Payouts Low

 

 

 

 

 

This article was written by Paul Feldman, is a staff writer at FairWarning, a nonprofit news organization based in Pasadena, California, that focuses on public health, consumer and environmental issues.

Feds Reject Insurance Hike for Big-Rigs, Pleasing Independent Truckers, Rankling Safety Advocates

By Paul Feldman on July 13, 2017

https://www.fairwarning.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/TruckingIllustration-800x469.jpgGraham Brown was headed to his job as a computer technician when a drowsy big-rig driver swerved into his path and struck his car, sending it flying off a rural Illinois road and into a field.

Brown was airlifted to a hospital for a six-hour surgery that saved his life. He suffered collapsed lungs, broken arms and legs, neurological damage and kidney failure, his mother, Kate Brown recalls. Hospitalized for 75 days after the May, 2005, accident, Graham Brown, now 40, has endured more than 20 surgeries and still cannot use his left hand or arm.

Yet because the small trucking company had little more than the federal minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, Kate Brown says she and Graham’s father were forced to dip into their retirement funds and take big chunks of time off from work to help care for their son.

Graham Brown eventually received a settlement of about $300,000, she says, after payment of attorney’s fees and other expenses. With continuing medical costs and permanent injuries that could reduce his earnings, he faces an uncertain financial future.

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Graham Brown, shown here with his mother, Kate Brown, was severely injured in a crash with a big-rig, and has had more than 20 surgeries. Because the trucking company had little more than the federal minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance, Brown faces an uncertain financial future.

The $750,000 minimum has been in place since 1983, but safety advocates who have campaigned to raise it have been stymied up to now. In their latest setback, the Trump administration in June dropped consideration of a higher minimum on grounds that it couldn’t get enough data from insurance and trucking firms to prove that the benefits would outweigh the costs. Efforts to raise the minimum previously stalled under the Obama administration, which also cited problems in collecting enough data.

Tens of thousands hurt

Kate Brown, of Gurnee, Illinois, said she was grateful her son survived, noting that “most people don’t live through crashes like that.” As for the financial stress on the family, Brown said it’s ”the price you have to pay because of the minimum insurance.”

Each year, close to 4,000 people are killed in the U.S. in crashes involving large trucks and tens of thousands more are hurt, some suffering catastrophic injuries that leave them disabled and in need of expensive lifetime care.

Yet for more than three decades, the federal minimum for truck liability insurance has remained stuck at $750,000. That amount, which must cover all victims of a crash, may be a fraction of the expenses for a single badly injured survivor. Simply adjusted for inflation, the minimum would be more than $2.2 million today.

“A million dollars wouldn’t have gotten my kids out of Akron Children’s Hospital,” said Baltimore resident Ed Slattery 61, a former economic analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who quit his job to care full-time for his two sons after they were critically injured in a 2010 big-rig crash on the Ohio Turnpike that killed his wife Susan.

The $750,000 minimum is a sliver of the $9.6 million value placed on a human life by the Department of Transportation when it is considering the costs and benefits of safety regulations.

Except for independent truckers, who say that even a small hike in their insurance premiums could force some of them off the road, few argue that the current minimum makes sense.

Action by private sector

The Trucking Alliance, an industry group that includes such major firms as J.B. Hunt and Knight, urges truckers to maintain coverage “significantly higher than the federal minimum requirement.” Doing so is necessary “to maintain the public’s trust and cover the medical costs associated with truck crash victims,” the organization says.

Even without a change in the government mandate, the private sector has moved the bar slightly on its own. A survey by the American Trucking Associations showed that eight of 10 truckers maintain $1-million of liability insurance to meet requirements imposed by private brokers and shipping companies.

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Consumer advocate Joan Claybrook faulted both the Trump and Obama administrations for failing to raise minimum liability coverage for trucking firms.

In 2013, a bill to raise the minimum to more than $4 million was introduced by Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., but got no traction.

A year later, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, the branch of the Department of Transportation that regulates interstate trucking, announced it would consider raising the minimum and requested public comment.

But in one of a flurry of deregulatory moves by the Trump administration, the motor carrier safety agency last month said it was withdrawing the proposal. Citing difficulty in getting industry data for a cost-benefit study, the agency said it lacked enough “information to support moving forward … at this time.”

Lack of data to justify an increase

Consumer advocate Joan Claybrook, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, called such reasoning ”ridiculous” and also condemned the Obama Administration’s failure to take action when it had the chance. She said that during Obama’s second term, officials of the motor carrier safety agency dragged their feet, also citing lack of enough data to justify an increase.

In an interview with FairWarning, Randi Hutchinson, chief counsel for the agency, said it cannot issue a regulation without ample cost-benefit evidence. If it did so, a court “would most likely find the regulation was arbitrary and capricious.”

Safety advocates said they hope the issue isn’t dead, and that they may again seek help from Congress.

“This remains a top priority for the congressman,” said Cartwright’s legislative director Jeremy Marcus. “Whether a legislative solution or working with the FMCSA, he’s still hoping to get these insurance rates raised to an appropriate level.”

Jackie Novak, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, who lost her only son, Charles, 22, in a crash with a tractor trailer in 2010, says she has little hope of action by the Trump administration.

The crash that took her son’s life also killed four others and injured more than a dozen. A $1 million liability policy was ultimately divided between survivors and next of kin. The family of Charles Novak, who had a two-year old son, got just over $100,000, Jackie Novak said.

‘Has your car insurance gone up?’

“Not only is he never going to know his father, but … someone has to pay to raise him.,” she said. “So guess what? Social Security is now taking up the task to raise my grandson.”

“I ask this question of every lawmaker that I’ve spoken to in Washington,” Novak told FairWarning. ” ‘Has your car insurance gone up in the last 34 years?’ Did anyone call to ask:  ‘Are we going to put you out of business if we raise the insurance?’ No, they just do it.

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Charles Novak, a 22-year-old father, was killed along with four others in a crash with a tractor-trailer in 2010.

“So this argument that raising the minimum insurance would be putting small operators out of business doesn’t wash with me. … They permanently put my son out of business, so if you can’t afford to be in that business, then be in a different business.”

The most vociferous opposition to an increase has come from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which claims 158,000 members and has spent more than $2.3 million lobbying in Washington since the start of 2015, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

After federal officials abandoned the effort, the group declared success in “getting a potentially devastating proposed regulation withdrawn.”

In considering an upgrade, the motor carrier agency reviewed several analyses showing that claims in severe accidents far exceed the liability minimum. The Trucking Alliance, for example, reported that more than 40 percent of injury claims against its members exceeded $750,000.

The American Trucking Associations, on the other hand, submitted a study of 85,000 crashes that found the average loss per crash was $11,229.

But safety advocates say insurance minimums aren’t meant to cover average accidents, but truly serious ones.

‘Salt on a wound’

“It’s bad enough when a family experiences a tragedy in losing someone or having loved ones severely injured,” said John Lannen, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition, an advocacy group. “It’s like salt on a wound when then you find out the company that caused this damage cannot compensate the family whether it be for medical bills, lost income or whatever.

“What happens, sadly, is these people suffer again because now they’re put in a situation where they have to rely on taxpayers, whether it be through Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, whatever it is,” Lannen added in an interview.

In the Ohio crash that killed Ed Slattery’s wife, the fact that the truck was owned by Estes Express Lines, a big firm with deep pockets, has made all the difference in his ability to provide lifetime care for his wheelchair-bound, brain-injured son Mathew, now 19, and a second son, Peter, who suffered less debilitating injuries.

Estes agreed to a settlement of more than $40-million, aimed at providing round-the-clock aid to Matthew in a new and specially equipped house.

“I’m the poster child of how it should go, I’m not the poster child for the norm,” said Ed Slattery, who has started a foundation to assist the families of other brain-injured people. “The luck of the draw is I got hit by a big company  …. that was well insured.”

Even so, he said, Matthew’s life will never be close to normal.

“He’s going to need 24/7 supervision for the rest of his life,” Slattery said. “He’s not going to college with his classmates — they’re all freshmen. They’re dating. He’s not. They’re driving. He’s not. It breaks your heart every day.”

Link: https://www.fairwarning.org/2017/07/trump-administration-move-big-rig-insurance-rankles-safety-advocates/

This story
also published by:

NBCNews.com
IowaWatch
Industrial Safety & Hygiene News

 

 

Speed Limiters

On average, more than 1,000 lives are lost annually to speeding Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs)

Speeding (i.e., exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for conditions) was a contributing factor in 7.5 percent of all reported large truck crashes in 2015.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 22.9 percent of large trucks involved in all types of crashes, and 15.2 percent of large trucks involved in a two vehicle crash with a passenger car, were coded as traveling/driving too fast for conditions.

The Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) supports a rule requiring all large trucks with existing speed limiting technology to be capped at a maximum speed of 60 mph because this technology:

Has Been Built into Most Trucks Since the 1990’s,

Can Save 162-498 Lives Annually,

Can Reduce the Crash Rate of Speeding Trucks by More than 70 Percent, and

Does NOT Contribute to an Increase in Truck Drivers Involved in Other Types of Collisions, Including Rear-End Crashes. In Other Words, THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST WORSE COLLISION OUTCOMES FOR LARGE TRUCK DRIVERS OPERATING SPEED-LIMITED TRUCKS.

 

 

 

 

Require Side Underride Guards

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.

 

Truck Underride Roundtable

Brownsville Herald: Crash survivor to speak with U.S. leaders

HARLINGEN — Debra Cruz spends most of her life in her small Harlingen home off Roosevelt Avenue.

She wears sunglasses in her living room to protect her deteriorating eyes and has short-term memory loss.

She takes several prescription medications every day.

She can’t go through metal detectors and keeps her hair cut very short, sometimes short enough to show the scars on the back of her head.

It didn’t used to be that way.

Nine years ago, her life changed.

An accident with an 18-wheeler on her way home left her permanently disabled. But it hasn’t taken away her will. It’s just changed her hopes.

Now, a good portion of her life revolves around doing all she can to make people aware of the devastation accidents can do and to reduce the numbers of these accidents.

“I am grateful and thankful,” Debra said about being alive. “I believe I was put here and survived for a reason.”

One of those reasons may be coming up later this week.

She will be heading to Washington, D.C., Friday to make her plea, again. It’s the second time in three years she has attended what is called “Sorrow to Strength,” a several day event held by the Truck Safety Coalition.

The purpose is to bring awareness to truck safety.

Debra believes she has and can continue to make a difference.

“I look up to Debra,” said Harry Adler, public affairs manager at the Truck Safety Coalition. “I think she is a wonderful representative.”

Adler said Debra, whose trip will be paid for by the Truck Safety Coalition, will be meeting with Congressman Filemon Vela and plans are in the works for her to meet with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn during her visit for Sorrow for Strength. There will be a couple days of workshops and then Debra will go to The Hill to talk with the leaders.

Among the items Debra will speak about include her accident and the situations revolving around it.

“It is always best to get people to tell their story and share it with the lawmakers and the public about what happened to them,” Adler said.

She also will talk about issues regarding truckers, including sleep deprivation, drug and alcohol use as well as proper testing and licensing.

Debra said she was told by her attorneys the driver of the truck that hit her had been in and out of rehabilitation for drug and alcohol abuse, including crystal meth.

“I tell them all this so they know these trucking companies must do better background checks,” Debra said.

Adler said if this was happening in another transportation industry, people would be paying more attention.

“These are not just statistics,” he said about the numbers of deaths and injuries annually in truck accidents. “These are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons.”

An emotional Debra said if she can help make sure this doesn’t happen to one family, her efforts will be worth it and her reason for survival will be clear.

“Debra is passionate about this and really exemplifies the motto for Sorrow for Strength,” Adler said. “She didn’t have to do this, she could have just said, it happened to me and that is it. But, instead, she wants to do what she can so this doesn’t happen to other people. She wants to help others.”

“I look at the way I was before and after — what life was like before,” Debra said. “It gets me a little depressed, but I am still here.”

There are many people in semi-tractor trailer accidents that are no longer here. She said the people she talks to are often amazed she is alive to tell about her ordeal.

She believes there’s a reason for that.

“I still am here and have to talk about it — that’s very important to me,” she said. “If this can help someone else, all that, all the things I have gone through will be worth it. This will all have been worth it if I can make a difference.”

Link: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/news/valley/article_0050b93e-2a22-11e7-b9fe-13af3e67259e.html

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 10:15 pm | By LISA SEISER Staff Writer Brownsville Herald

Safety Groups Respond to U.S. DOT IG Rubber Stamping Study on Truck Driver Hours of Service Safety Protections

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.

###

Debra Cruz Letter to the Editor – The Monitor

After I survived a truck crash on Aug. 8, 2008, one of my goals became to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by truck crashes. Eventually, I began volunteering for the Truck Safety Coalition, a non-profit organization consisting of families of truck crash victims and survivors who also shared in my goal. Since then, I have been able to speak to the public and policy makers about ways to make trucking safer for everyone.

When I heard that state lawmakers were considering increasing truck weights, and that federal lawmakers might consider increasing truck-trailer lengths, I was compelled to speak out against both of these policies, which are premised on a false promise of fewer trucks. The fact remains: The number of trucks on our roads has increased following every past size and weight increase.

Allowing even heavier trucks will further damage our crumbling infrastructure, in particular — bridges, which our state has more of than any other state. Permitting Double 33s will also not enhance safety. In addition to elongating existing double configurations by 10 feet, Double 33s also take longer to break, have a wider turning radius, and are more likely to off-track at low speeds. In short, both policies will not make trucking safer, especially at time when trends indicate truck safety is in decline.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released figures for 2015 that shows there were 4,067 truck fatalities — a 20 percent increase since 2009. In Texas, the trends in truck safety are even more troubling. Between 1994 and 2015, the past four years have been the deadliest with regards to truck crashes.

Clearly, we need to be doing more to prevent truck crashes.

I have been meeting with elected officials in Texas to discuss my crash, in which my vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer, about how we can work together to make trucking safer. Had the truck in my crash been equipped with automatic emergency braking, I might not have written this letter, or sustained life-long brain injuries.

Debra Cruz, Truck Safety Coalition, Harlingen

Link: http://www.themonitor.com/opinion/letters/article_b2380214-f4a9-11e6-a76f-d352f30ef392.html

Senator Schumer Speaks Out in Support of Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters

Long Island Expressway (LIE) Speed Limit Is 55MPH But Any Long Islander Can Tell You That Big Rigs, Even Large Buses, Often Give It The Gas & Exceed The Limit, Putting Thousands Upon Thousands Of Everyday Drivers At Risk For Accidents—Or Worse 

Ready-To-Go Technology That Caps Big Rig Speed Has Far and Wide Support But Requires Feds To Approve Across-The-Board Installation

Schumer: Capping Big Rig Speed – On The LIE and Elsewhere – Should Get Green Light 

Standing nearby the Long Island Expressway, amidst passing trucks, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to swiftly finalize a proposed rule that would require electronic speeding devices in large trucks, buses and school buses over 26,000 pounds.

“For every Long Island driver who has been next to or in the crosshairs of a speeding big rig, a technology like this can’t come fast enough,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Trucks, and large buses that barrel down our roads unsafely put everyone in danger, but now that we have a sensible technology that can make extreme truck and bus speeds a thing of the past, we must push the feds to accelerate its swift adoption. The LIE is just one of New York’s big rig attractions, and so, capping speed in a safe and reasonable way will make this expressway and everyday drivers safer.”

“There is ample proof that speed limiting technology reduces crashes, prevents injuries, and saves lives.” said Steve Owings, who co-founded Road Safe America (RSA) with his wife, Susan, after their son Cullum was killed by a speeding big rig on Virginia Interstate highway. “When Ontario required speed limiters, they experienced a 24 percent reduction in truck crash fatalities. When truck companies that have voluntarily adopted speed limiters set them on their trucks, their trucks were less likely to be involved in highway speed crashes than trucks that do not set their speed limiters. With nearly thirty delays over the ten years since RSA filed the petition for rulemaking to require all trucks to be equipped with a heavy vehicle speed limiters set at a reasonable top speed, I am frustrated that NHTSA and FMCSA produced a proposed rule that only applies to new trucks. Susan and I hope that the agencies modify the proposal to apply to all trucks and issue a final rule immediately. We are grateful that Senator Schumer is pushing for this much-need technology that will make our roads safer.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition, stated, “The heavy vehicle speed limiter rule is a life saving measure that is long overdue. At a time when truck crashes have shot up 44 percent between 2009 and 2014, and truck crash fatalities have exceeded 4,000 for the first time since 2008, our regulators should be working diligently to produce a final rule that applies to all large trucks as quickly as possible. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) note in their joint Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that this technology has been standard in most trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds since the 1990s. There is no reason this commonsense rule should not apply to all trucks. Our volunteers – families of truck crash victims and truck crash survivors – thank Senator Schumer for taking on this issue that causes too many preventable deaths and injuries.”

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed installing large commercial trucks with electronic devices that limit their speeds on roadways, and requiring the devices to be set to a maximum speed. Schumer highlighted that while the federal rule making process can sometimes take years, this rule should be finalized as quickly as possible so that installation of the systems can begin quickly and drivers can be properly trained.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), approximately 70 percent of trucking companies already use electronic limiters. Schumer today said that adopting this proposal could help reduce the more than 1,000 fatalities involving heavy vehicles and speed every year. Schumer highlighted that while many trucks and large vehicles are operated safely, technology like speed-limiters, when used correctly can help crack down on the few bad actors who are putting lives in danger.

According to NHTSA, in 2014 there were 3,903 people killed and 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks nationwide. Of the people killed in large truck crashes, 83% were occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians.

According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, since 2009, there has been a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a 50 percent rise in the number of injuries in large-truck crashes.

According to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2014, there were 10,742 police-reported large truck crashes in the state of New York. Of these crashes, 990 were related to unsafe speed.

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), speed is a contributor to roughly 29 percent of all fatal crashes. And, driving too fast for conditions or over the posted speed limit was the primary reason for 18 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was deemed at fault.

According to NHTSA and FMCSA, even a small increase in speed among large trucks will have large effects on the force impact in a crash, and that’s why, Schumer said, this proposal is so important. According to estimates in the proposed rulemaking, limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 60 miles per hour would save an estimated 162 to 498 lives annually; limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 65 miles per hour would save 63 to 214 lives annually; and limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 68 miles per hour would save 27 to 96 lives annually. The FMCSA proposal would also prevent an estimated 179 to 551 serious injuries and 3,356 to 10,306 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 60 miles per hour; 70 to 236 serious injuries and 1,299 to 4,535 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 65 miles per hour; and 30 to 106 serious injuries and 560 to 1,987 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 68 miles per hour.

Schumer today urged the USDOT to quickly approve this rule so that electronic speed limiters would be installed in trucks as soon as possible. Schumer said the rule should be finalized in a way that also ensures the continued safety of truck drivers by allowing them to safely accelerate and merge. Schumer said that the benefits of this proposal are two-fold: requiring electronic speeding devices in trucks would not only help save lives and prevent injuries, but also positively impact the environment. According to NHTSA and FMCSA, requiring speed limiting devices could result in fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions totaling $850 million annually.

Schumer pointed to the number of fatalities involving large trucks in New York between 2009-2015, according to NHTSA:

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
New York State: # of Fatalities 107 120 114 100 118 98 126
Long Island: # of Fatalities 16 15 19 17 14 14 18
Long Island: % of Total Fatalities 14.95% 12.50% 16.67% 17.00% 11.86% 14.29% 14.29%
NYC: # of Fatalities 27 24 38 28 27 28 27
NYC: % of Total Fatalities 25.23% 20.00% 33.33% 28.00% 22.88% 28.57% 21.43%

*NYC includes Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island; and Long Island includes Nassau and Suffolk

 

Schumer’s letter to FMCSA Administrator Darling and NHTSA Administrator Rosekind appears below:

Dear Administrator Darling and Administrator Rosekind:

I write to you today to both applaud your efforts to commence a rulemaking on truck speed limiters and urge you to finalize this rule as quickly as possible. As you know, truck speed limiters, if implemented safely, have the potential to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of crashes. While most truck drivers and other heavy vehicle operators operate safely, truck speed limiters can help prevent the handful of dangerous actors from inflicting high-speed damage on our roadways.

I appreciate the need to have a careful and thorough rulemaking process, but feel strongly that your agencies should do everything they can to move through this process and finalize this common sense rule as quickly as possible. I’d also urge your agencies to work closely with truck drivers to ensure that the rule is implemented in a way that still allows them to safely merge and operate their vehicles.

Throughout New York State we have had a long-history with high-speed truck related crashes. In 2014 alone, there were 10,742 policed-reported large truck crashes, 74 of which were fatal and 990 of which were related to unsafe speed. While truck speed limiters will not prevent all crashes, they will certainly significantly reduce both the number and severity of these accidents. It’s for these reasons that I urge your agencies to move swiftly to finalize this rule.

Thank you for your consideration, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

 

 

Maine Voices: Sen. Collins needs to change her position on trucking safety rules

As summer winds down, it is time to reflect on the safety of our roads and the hundreds of loved ones across the country who were needlessly killed or injured in truck crashes over the past few months. Our sons were killed in crashes caused by tired truckers. They were two of the nearly 4,000 people who die each year in truck crashes, many of which are preventable. Another 100,000 people are seriously injured.

Since the tragic deaths of our sons, our mission has been devoted to preventing this tragedy from happening to others by promoting common-sense safety solutions. Yet, one of our own U.S. senators, Susan Collins, continues to thwart our efforts to improve truck safety for families in Maine and across the country.

For the past few years, Sen. Collins has been the flag-bearer for trucking interests seeking to undermine and undo safety rules. From her powerful seat as chair of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that is responsible for determining spending levels for federal transportation programs, she has continually provided special access and favors to trucking interests.

For example, she single-mindedly sought to stop federal rules issued in 2013 on the number of driving and resting hours for truck drivers. Although truck driver fatigue is a well-documented and major cause of truck crashes, she just won’t stop.

After her previous attempts to kill off the federal safety rule on rest time for truck drivers fell short of her goal, she decided to take another approach. Instead of allowing the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct an open and public rulemaking for a regulation based on research and science, she opted to write the rule herself.

Of course, she did it behind closed doors with the help of her trucking friends. When families of truck crash victims and safety groups objected and opposed her safety assaults, she resorts to questioning our motives. Does this behavior sound familiar from a politician in the news these days?

Several weeks ago, Sen. Collins announced in a Washington Post op-ed reprinted in this newspaper that she will not be voting for Donald Trump for president. One of the reasons she cites is his criticism of the grieving parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, which she found unacceptable. Yet she is quick to criticize grieving parents who have lost children in truck crashes because we won’t be silenced and have the audacity to challenge her efforts to set back safety on behalf of special trucking interests.

The senator complained earlier this year in media interviews that safety groups were ignoring other provisions recently passed in Congress mandating federal rules forspeed-limiting devices on large trucks and electronic logging devices for recording work and driving hours of truckers.

For many years, we have strongly supported and urged adoption of these truck safety measures and will continue to push agency actions because of unacceptable and excessive government delays. During these years, Sen. Collins has stood on the sidelines on these issues.

Now, she stands near the finish line of our long and difficult efforts to enhance safety, eager and ready to take credit for these safety improvements that were proposed, promoted and brought to near conclusion by others.

Increasing the number of hours that a trucker can work and drive and reducing rest time, as Sen. Collins has done, are not sensible solutions unless you are championing industry profits. Truck crashes have surged from 286,000 in 2009 to 411,000 in 2014– a 44 percent increase. Furthermore, truck crash injuries have skyrocketed by 50 percent during that same period. Truck crash fatalities also continue to rise, increasing nearly 16 percent between 2009 and 2014.

The bad news is the DOT just released figures showing that truck crash fatalities increased by another 4 percent from 2014 to 2015, exceeding 4,000 annual deaths for the first time since 2008.

A staggering 80 percent of the public oppose longer hours for truck drivers. Truck drivers deserve a real “weekend” off and the public deserves to be sharing the road with truck drivers who are rested and alert. It is time for Sen. Collins to stop picking on victims of truck crashes and safety groups and start listening to her constituents and the American people she was elected to represent.

Link: http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/07/maine-voices-sen-collins-needs-to-change-her-position-on-trucking-safety-rules/

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Daphne Izer of Lisbon and Christina Mahaney of Jackman are mothers whose sons were killed in fatigue-related truck crashes.

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING FOR HEAVY VEHICLE SPEED LIMITERS

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.

###

Statement on Announcement of Notice of Proposed Speed Limiter 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.”

Automatic Emergency Braking – Prime Time for Regulation

Written by Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

Truck crashes are a serious public health and safety problem. Each year on average, 4,000 people are killed in large-truck crashes. That is equivalent to the death toll of a major airplane crash every other week of the year. Another 100,000 people are injured annually. The economic cost to society from commercial motor vehicle crashes exceeds $100 billion annually.

Alarmingly, we have experienced a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a staggering 50 percent rise in the number of people injured in large-truck crashes since 2009. With total tonnage of truck freight shipments predicted to increase as much as 35 percent by 2040, the urgent need to make trucks safer for all motorists has never been greater.

Fortunately, we already have solutions to significantly improve safety and prevent needless crashes. One common sense safety measure that would curb frequent and fatal truck crashes is the use of automatic emergency braking, or AEB, systems. Yet, in a column published by Trucks.com, truck driver Shelley Uvanile-Hesch argued that AEB technology needs more research before requiring it for new trucks. We respectfully disagree.

The federal agency responsible for regulating this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has studied rear-end crashes, which are the primary target of automatic braking technology, and estimated that the death and injury toll is significant. Large trucks are the striking vehicle in approximately 32,000 crashes resulting in 300 deaths and more than 15,000 injuries annually. The agency further estimates that with automatic braking systems tuned to react to both moving and stopped lead vehicles, nearly 60 percent of fatalities and injuries in these types of collisions could be prevented.

Automatic braking technology has been offered on large trucks since at least 2006, making the technology nearly a decade old. Manufacturers and suppliers continue to improve the technology and expand its capabilities. In fact, NHTSA recently released a report on a field study of crash avoidance systems, or CAS, finding that in over 3 million miles of data, no rear-end crashes of the type that CAS are designed to prevent occurred from subject vehicles. It also found that while improvements to the systems can be made, they generally work as intended.

Yet Ms. Uvanile-Hesch’s experience does highlight an issue for concern. While the technology exists to put effective crash avoidance systems in trucks, we must make sure that it works properly. That’s why we need a minimum federal safety standard to ensure that the technology currently in use is reliable and meets basic requisites of functionality. In fact, some motor carriers already are paying to install this technology on new trucks even though there are no guarantees that it will perform as advertised.

That needs to change.

My organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety — together with other consumer, public health and safety groups as well as truck crash victims and survivors — has petitioned NHTSA to act. Our petition requests that the agency require the use of forward collision avoidance and mitigation braking, or F-CAM, systems on all new large trucks and buses with a minimum gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds.

F-CAM technology uses radar and sensors to first alert the driver and then to apply the brakes when a crash is imminent. F-CAM systems employ a Forward Collision Warning, or FCW, to inform a driver when his or her vehicle gets too close to another vehicle that is stopped or traveling more slowly ahead. This gives the driver a chance to brake in time. When the system determines that a crash is about to occur, a Collision Mitigation Braking, or CMB, system automatically applies the brakes to prevent the crash or reduce its severity.

NHTSA estimates that current generation F-CAM systems can prevent over 2,500 crashes each year and that future systems could prevent more than 6,300 crashes annually.

Our petition urges the establishment of performance requirements. Other critical safety systems in cars and trucks must meet minimum federal standards, including brakes, seat belts, air bags, tires, headlamps and electronic stability control. In the absence of a federal standard, each manufacturer and supplier can design its system to function differently and, in some cases, ineffectively. All drivers should be afforded the assurance that the automatic braking technology will perform at the most critical moments in the driving task. These standards would also include requirements for durability and other aspects of performance. Without a regulation, design and performance choices made by manufacturers and suppliers may not result in sufficient braking capability to guarantee safety and reliability.

Furthermore, our petition focused on automatic braking systems that would only operate in emergencies, and would not interfere with advanced cruise control or other types of systems. That addresses some of the problems Ms. Uvanile-Hesch said she encountered driving her big rig. Automatic braking systems are intended to intervene only when a collision is imminent and to take control of braking only when a driver has failed to apply the brakes or perform any evasive maneuver.

Purchasing a new car or truck involves numerous decisions by the prospective buyer, including cost and safety features. AEB is a crash avoidance technology that will prevent crashes and will result in saving lives and saving money. This important lifesaving technology should be standard equipment on all new trucks and buses and should be required to meet minimum federal performance requirements. It is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that safety systems on planes, trains, trucks and cars work well and work every time. Less-than-ideal performance of current automatic braking systems actually sounds the alarm on the urgent need for NHTSA to establish uniform safety standards for AEB.

Editor’s note: Jacqueline Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, has devoted her career to advancing highway, auto, and motor carrier safety. She has held senior positions in government and public-interest organizations. 

Link: https://www.trucks.com/2016/06/23/automatic-emergency-braking-ready/

Healthcare Costs to Employees, Industry Benefits Focus of Final FMCSA/FRA Listening Session

truck FMCSA sleep apnea

The final public listening session in Los Angeles, Calif, on the proposed guidelines for obstructive sleep apnea focused on the benefits for the commercial transportation industry as well as the impact on employee healthcare costs.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) held the final of three public listening sessions in Los Angeles, Calif, on May 25, 2016 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites. According to the FMCSA, the listening sessions were intended to solicit information from the public on the prevalence of moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among individuals occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation, its potential consequences for safety, and the potential costs and benefits of possible regulatory actions. The listening session in Los Angeles provided interested parties the opportunity to share their views on this topic along with any relevant studies and data.

A Voice for the Public

The Los Angeles session included a panel of members from both the FMCSA and FRA to represent each organization and interact with attendees. The panel included: Mark A. Patterson, executive officer for safety operations for the FRA; Shannon L. Watson, senior advisor, policy and program development, FMCSA; Matthew L. Navarrete, trial attorney for the FRA; Larry W. Minor, associate administrator, office of policy, for the FMCSA; BJ Arseneau, DO, chief medical officer for the FRA; and Gina Pervall, MD, chairman of the medical review board for the FMCSA.

Only a few members of the public attended the Los Angeles session in person. Three attendees total made public comments (two commented in the morning session, and one commented during the afternoon session). The event was live broadcast online, and the public could also comment online during the event. Both the morning and afternoon sessions ended early because all attendees who wished to publicly comment were finished speaking.

The first of the three attendees who addressed the panel was Kevin Walgenbach, vice president of compliance & regulatory affairs for the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA). Walgenbach, who says the NRMCA represents more than 2,000 companies and 125,000 employees, said he believes the current regulatory framework is sufficient and he is opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to OSA testing and screening because of the drivers’ unique needs. Walgenbach also said the proposed rules may impact the ability to recruit new drivers. Also, in his estimation, the 2012 enforced recommendations caused a number of issues in the commercial trucking industry, such as unnecessary costs and false diagnoses, and he supports a comprehensive pilot study before the rules are finalized.

“The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association at this time is opposed to any new regulation mandating sleep apnea screenings. The current regulatory framework already exists to address sleep disorders among commercial motor vehicle drivers. A more pointed examination of certified medical examiners and their practices related sleep disorder determinations for drivers may yield better results aimed at increased safety on our nation’s roads,” said Walgenbach. “With this fishing expedition on sleep apnea it is clear that the agencies have not taken seriously concerns relating to limited medical coverage for sleep apnea or currently unemployed drivers looking to enter the workforce.” Walgenbach said until these issues are examined, any new rulemaking, in addition to the current regulatory framework, would be improper.

Tami Friedrich Trakh, a board member for Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and a member of the FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, was the second speaker in the morning session and is a proponent of the suggested guidelines. In a statement to the panel, Trakh said she is surprised that there is strong resistance to OSA screening and treatment in the commercial transportation industry, adding that fatigue has been recognized as a major safety issue for more than 70 years. Trakh said OSA does have an effect on traffic accidents and ardently said that more must be done to prevent fatigued driving.

According to Trakh, a 2006 FMCSA study revealed that 65% of truck drives reported they often or sometimes felt drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep behind the while driving in the previous year. “Nearly 20 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, but truck drivers are at a much greater risk for this health problem (some studies estimate that up to 50% of truck drivers are at risk compared to 5% of the general population.) There are solutions that are available, like a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, but they are of no use if the drivers are not using them,” Trakh said. “According to results from one study of sleep apnea, truck drivers who fail adhere to treatment for obstructive sleep apnea are five times more likely to get involved in a crash than a truck driver who is on treatment. These staggering statistics should give pause to those denying that this sleep disorder has an effect on crashes.”

Trakh said she looks forward to seeing a final rule that would require commercial motor vehicle drivers to be screened, tested, and treated for OSA.

In the afternoon session of the Los Angeles meeting, Dana Voien, president and CEO of SleepSafe Drivers, a provider of programs for sleep apnea and fatigue management to fleets and high-risk occupations, addressed the panel as a proponent of the proposed guidelines. Voien said the screening and treatment of OSA has benefits for the commercial transportation industry and having a uniform rule will help fleets as well as individuals drivers. Voien highlighted the importance of showing drivers in this industry that the proposed rules for screening and treatment will be a benefit and not an imposition, and studies have shown that the guidelines can protect drivers’ health and keep them on the job.

“We believe that a rule for sleep apnea will lead to dramatic reductions in both rail and truck related accidents, fatalities, and total expenses nationwide, helping those workers to lead longer and healthier lives and careers,” said Voien. “There have been numerous large and statistically significant studies done with truckers and rail workers specifically, all of which show a direct link between untreated sleep apnea and increased risk of crash (2.5 to 5x), plus a doubling of hospital costs, a doubled risk for heart attacks, a five-fold increase in strokes, a 70% increase in sick days and Workers Comp claims, and a 90% increased risk of forced early retirement due to health issues.”

Safety and Support for Drivers

According to Voien, testing and treatment done through Fatigue Management Programs (FMP) tailored for trucking and rail workers are documented to help drivers get tested and treated in 1 to 3 days, reduce accident rates, and deliver 96% to 98% treatment success. Voien said testing and treating through a comprehensive FMP should include a variety of components, including education, both in-lab polysomnography and home sleep tests as available options, and ongoing PAP compliance monitoring and support. “Drivers and rail workers must be assured they will be supported throughout the process, and over time through the FMP program. Bottom line, ‘We care about your health and safety,’” said Voien.

“Based on 20 years of leadership in transportation, I feel that publishing a regulation (using the same language from the last FMCSA rule publication) on sleep apnea is a positive and critically needed action,” Steven Garrish, MBA, CDS, senior vice president of business development/new ventures for SleepSafe Drivers, later said in response to a Sleep Review follow-up e-mail. “Much like the value that has been brought to the industry from required physicals, drug and alcohol screening and other vital measures; having a clear and thoughtful regulation on sleep apnea testing and treatment (as part of a comprehensive FMP) is the next logical step for improving safety and a higher quality of life for those who work so hard to support and protect our nation’s supply chain.”

Also via e-mail, D. Alan Lankford, PhD, FAASM, chief science officer at SleepSafe Drivers, said, “FMCSA/FRA are seeking input on how to craft the most effective and efficient regulation to address the potential safety risks associated with OSA. For this regulation to be successful, the potential impact to the industry must be acknowledged. In all cases, the goal should be protecting public safety and enhancing the industry professionals’ safety and well-being while keeping the freight/cargo moving.” (emphasis Lankford’s)

Though the in-person listening sessions are now over, the public still has until June 8 to comment on the proposed regulation online.

Cassandra Perez is associate editor for Sleep Review. CONTACT cperez@nullallied360.com

Truckers clash with regulators

Truck drivers are battling with the Obama administration over a long-delayed proposal related to drug and alcohol testing.

The Transportation Department is moving to establish a national database — also known as a clearinghouse — that would list truck drivers who have failed drug and alcohol tests. It would also list drivers who have refused to take them.

The administration and supporters of the proposal say the database would make it easier for employers to conduct background checks before they hire new drivers.

“Drivers who have previously violated drug and alcohol testing, and especially those who are repeat violators, pose a significant risk to the driving public,” the Truck Safety Coalition said in comments filed with the Transportation Department.

The department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the rule to the White House last month for final approval after a two-year delay.

Safety advocates, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, argue the database will help keep dangerous drivers off the road by closing a loophole that allows truck drivers who have been fired for substance abuse to continue operating commercial motor vehicles.

Trucking companies also support the rule, which could save them money by cutting back on crashes. Having a central database could also shield them from liability when accidents occur.

“Motor carriers support it, because they want to hire safe, qualified drivers, and they need full and complete histories of prospective drivers to do that,” said Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy at the American Trucking Associations.

But truck drivers fear former employers could use the database to unfairly punish drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which represents some 150,000 truck drivers, is concerned that trucking companies will use the threat of falsely
reported alcohol and drug tests to “punish or retaliate against drivers.”

“The report of a bad drug test can be the end of a driver’s employability,” the OOIDA told the Treasury Department.

The Transportation Department already requires truck drivers to report failed tests to their current and future employers, but safety advocates doubt that the “self-reporting” requirements are effective.

Without a national database to track the results, drivers who have been fired can find jobs with new employers. That could have “deadly consequences,” according to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Unless a history of drug and alcohol violations are voluntarily supplied, the employers lack adequate information to avoid hiring these dangerous drivers,” according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

In addition, not every company that employs a driver is notified when a driver fails a drug or alcohol test. Working for multiple trucking companies is common in the industry.

“In the interest of safety, the clearinghouse should immediately notify all of a driver’s employers when the driver is to be removed from a safety sensitive position,” the American Trucking Associations wrote.

“If such a process is not provided, employers will be forced to rely on the honesty of their employees to inform them of their non-compliance,” it added. “Yet, there is little to compel an employee in such circumstances to do so.”

Trucking companies and safety advocates are pushing the administration to strengthen the rule so that the database includes drivers who avoided being tested by admitting to substance abuse problems.

The American Trucking Associations argues that truck drivers who either admitted to or were observed by their employers using drugs or alcohol should also be included in the database.

But the truck drivers group says trucking companies often use the tests unfairly.

“One scheme motor carriers use is to require a driver to take a drug test at a date and time that is impossible for the driver to meet — whether due to the distance the driver must travel to the drug testing facility or the simultaneous work demands of the carrier,” the OOIDA wrote. 

“Another scheme is to tag a driver with a refusal after the driver is terminated or resigns from the motor carrier,” it added.

Link to Article: http://thehill.com/regulation/transportation/281796-truckers-clash-with-regulators

 

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

Underride Roundtable Articles

WLMT TV (Memphis)

http://www.localmemphis.com/news/local-news/parents-turn-tragedy-of-losing-son-into-life-saving-mission

WVIR TV (Charlottesville, VA)

http://www.nbc29.com/story/31903456/iihs-unveils-new-safety-improvements-for-tractor-trailers

The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)

http://pilotonline.com/news/media/videos/safety-group-tests-rear-crash-bar-on-trucks/youtube_4f226daa-f4c2-59bc-8f7e-c720d4fe360e.html

Truckinginfo.com

htp://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2016/05/truck-safety-coalition-honors-industry-leaders-for-safety-commitment.aspx

Trucks.com

https://www.trucks.com/2016/05/06/traffic-experts-debate-how-to-prevent-deadly-truck-crashes/

Business Wire

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160505006752/en/Greer-Woodruff-J.B.-Hunt-Transport-Services-Recognized

Gobytrucknews.com

http://www.gobytrucknews.com/tsc-recognizes-safety-leaders/123

Automotive World

http://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/truck-underride-roundtable-addresses-problem-deadly-crashes/

Rocky Mount Telegram (NC)

http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/News/2016/05/13/Underride-roundtable-generates-awareness.html

Truck Safety Coalition Honors Industry Leaders for Safety Commitment

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.

Link: http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/story/2016/05/truck-safety-coalition-honors-industry-leaders-for-safety-commitment.aspx

Dawn King Op-Ed: Trucking weight bill could impact safety, infrastructure

I became involved in the Truck Safety Coalition after my father, Bill Badger, was killed in 2004 near the Georgia state line by a tired trucker who had fallen asleep at the wheel after driving all night and crashed into his car.

The Michigan House of Representatives just passed an anti-truck safety bill, House Bill 4418, that would grant an exemption to seasonal weight restrictions, also known as the “frost law,” for trucks carrying maple sap.

As the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), I have educated myself and others about different policies affecting truck safety for more than ten years. At the same time, I have advocated for laws that would enhance truck safety and defended existing truck safety laws and regulations from being rolled back. I hope that others will join me and TSC in this opportunity to stand up for safety and protect a law that protects the people by opposing HB 4418.

Granting yet another exemption to Michigan’s “frost law” contradicts the original intent of the law. Seasonal weight limits, which reduce weight limits on maximum axle loads, maximum wheel loads and gross vehicle weights for commercial motor vehicles driven on state roads from March until May were established to protect our state’s infrastructure. Because of the freezing and thawing that occurs during the aforementioned months, the roads become far more susceptible to damage caused by heavy vehicles. Therefore, allowing heavier trucks carrying maple sap during these months will result in more road damage, in turn costing the taxpayers even more.

HB 4418 also ignores Michigan’s subpar infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers found 22 percent of Michigan roads are in poor condition and 28 percent of Michigan bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Lawmakers should not be enacting this exception that will further exacerbate Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges.

Additionally, one of the arguments for HB 4418 is based on the erroneous claim that heavier trucks will result in fewer trucks. Increasing the truck weight limit will not decrease the number of trips, result in fewer miles traveled, or improve safety by reducing the number of trucks on the highways. Despite several increases in weights of large trucks over the past few decades, the number of trucks and miles traveled on U.S. highways has consistently gone up.

The number of fatalities as a result of truck crashes in Michigan has also grown. From 2011 to 2014, total fatalities from all crashes in Michigan increased by just 1.3 percent, while fatalities from truck crashes in our state increased by 61 percent during that same time. Clearly, truck safety in our state, like infrastructure, is worsening. Michigan lawmakers must address this problem, but allowing heavier trucks is not the solution.

Bills, like this one, that increase truck weight limits industry-by-industry are nothing more than a back door strategy by special interests to come back to our state legislature in several years and lobby for heavier truck weights statewide. We should not allow this special interest hand out to pass at the expense of our infrastructure and our safety.

Dawn King is the president of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), a nonprofit that is a partnership between the Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).

Link to Article: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/opinion/contributors/viewpoints/2016/03/11/king-trucking-weight-bill-impact-safety-infrastructure/81605236/

Truck Safety Coalition Responds to Release of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Requiring Entry Level Driver Training

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) published today in the Federal Register requiring training for entry-level commercial motor vehicle drivers is a welcome development in the effort to enhance truck safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) release of the NPRM, which is based upon the negotiated rulemaking conducted by the Entry Level Driver Training Advisory Committee (ELDTAC), comes 25 years after Congress passed a law requiring a rule on entry level driver training. While we are disappointed that this commonsense regulation has been stalled for so long, the Truck Safety Coalition looks forward to the safety benefits it will produce.

Ron Wood, a member of the ELDTAC and Truck Safety Coalition volunteer said, “This regulation will greatly enhance safety for truckers and the motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclist they drive alongside. Requiring commercial driver’s license applicants to train using a specific curriculum and behind-the-wheel training before they can attain a CDL will help make sure that new truck drivers are prepared to operate their vehicles. The theoretical component mandates training on fatigue awareness, hours of service, trip planning, operating a vehicle under various conditions, and several other safety issues that a professional truck driver needs to address. The requisite 30 hours of behind-the-wheel training will further ensure that CDL applicants can translate their theoretical knowledge into practice for what they may encounter on our nation’s roads and bridges.”

“Although I am eager that this rulemaking will lead to more well-trained drivers, this achievement is bittersweet as it comes too late for some of us.” Wood said. “In 2004, my mother, my sister, and her three children were killed by an inadequately trained driver who fell asleep at the wheel; he killed a total of ten people and injured two others in this crash that occurred 13 years after Congress required action on entry level driver training.”

John Lannen, Executive Director of the Truck Safety Coalition and also a member of the ELDTAC noted, “This negotiated rulemaking is a step in the right direction, but I would be remiss if I did not recognize the delay since the Congressional mandate was issued in the early nineties. Nevertheless, the Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to see that the FMCSA proceeded with the rulemaking that the advisory committee reached through consensus. Aside from the theoretical curricula and behind-the-wheel hourly requirements, there are other much needed safety improvements included in this rulemaking. Establishing standards for FMCSA-approved driver-training providers and a registry of those providers will help the agency ensure that this rulemaking is properly enforced. The Truck Safety Coalition will continue to monitor this NPRM moving forward, and will also continue applying pressure to make sure that this rulemaking becomes a Final Rule as quickly as possible.”

The Truck Safety Coalition (www.trucksafety.org) 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 public policy-makers and media about truck safety issues.

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STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL

ARLINGTON, VA (December 16, 2015) – The United States Congress today released an omnibus spending bill that includes the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations legislation, H.R. 2577.

The Truck Safety Coalition worked closely with a coalition of survivors and families of truck crash victims, law enforcement, first responders, truck drivers, trucking companies, and safety advocacy groups to have 33-foot double tractor-trailers removed from the legislation. We hope to continue working with these groups to address missed opportunities to improve truck safety going forward.

We want to especially thank Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their leadership, and the hard work of their staffs, in our fight against these longer, less safe trucks.

We successfully advocated for the exclusion of a measure hindering a rulemaking to determine the adequacy of minimum insurance for motor carriers. The minimum financial requirement has not been raised in over 35 years, and is woefully inadequate. Congress should not be using overly burdensome study requirements to stop attempts to evaluate the appropriate level of financial responsibility.

While we are disappointed that the Collins rider affecting hours of service (HOS) was included in the omnibus, we will continue to educate the public and our lawmakers about the dangers of tired truckers. Requiring a truck driver to work up to 82 hours per week will only cause more fatigue related truck crashes, and, in turn, more injuries and deaths. Rather than acquiescing to industry demands, Congress should be making data-driven decisions. We hope that the release of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Final Rule will help law enforcement isolate bad actors and help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) obtain better data on truck driver fatigue.

Moving forward, we hope that Members of Congress will no longer try to use the appropriations process as a back door to advance industry-backed agendas. Policies that affect the safety and wellbeing of the public should be subject to open debate, research, and analysis.

Overall, the Truck Safety Coalition welcomes the improvements made to the THUD component of the omnibus spending bill, and will continue to work to improve the HOS rules.

###

$305B highway bill limits teen truckers

The $305 billion highway bill announced by lawmakers on Tuesday limits an effort to lower the minimum age of truck drivers on interstate trips from 21 years of age to 18 to veterans and current military members and reservists.

The 1,300 page measure, which was unveiled days before a Friday deadline for renewing federal transportation funding, eschews a broader proposal to lower the minimum age of all interstate truck drivers in a pilot program that was approved earlier by the House and Senate.

Safety groups praised lawmakers for placing limits on the number of teenage truck drivers that will be allowed on U.S. roads.

“By restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines,” Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director John Lannen said in a statement.

The proposal to lower the minimum age of truck drivers was included in earlier appropriations bills that were approved by the House and Senate, igniting a fight between truck companies and safety groups that revved up as lawmakers were pressing to beat the rapidly approaching Dec. 4 highway funding deadline.

Supporters argued the idea of lower the minimum age for truckers was a modest effort to address a driver shortage that trucking companies have complained has hampered cargo movement in the U.S.

“This amendment would strike a limited pilot program that is authorizing drivers over 19 1/2 to enter into a graduated program to obtain a commercial driver’s license,” Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said when the proposal was being debated on the House floor in October.

“What’s interesting about the way present law is [written] is that a driver that’s over the age that’s being discussed here can drive all the way across the state of Missouri, for instance, but they can’t drive 10 miles in the city of Kansas City because it’s across state lines,” Graves continued then. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and it actually hampers a whole lot of business.”

Truck companies cited a shortage of truck drivers they said has reached 48,000 as they pushed for the minimum age of interstate drivers to be lowered, arguing that older truckers are retiring at a faster clip than younger replacements are coming on line.

“The ability to find enough qualified drivers is one of our industry’s biggest challenges,” American Trucking Association President and former Kansas Gov. Bill Graves (R) said in a statement about the driver shortage released in the middle of the highway bill debate.

Democrats argued that it is too risky to turn the wheels of big rigs over to teenage drivers, however.

“Ask any parent, they know young drivers do not always listen, even when an experience is in the front seat,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said during the House highway bill debate.

Lawmakers ultimately split the difference, limiting the lower truck driver age limit to veterans and active military members.

The Truck Safety Coalition’s Lannen praised lawmakers for reaching an agreement that “removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures,” though he added that the compromise bill “unfortunately, included some troubling provisions.

“We are extremely thankful to the members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people,” he said. “Their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.”

Link to Article: http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/261765-305-highway-bill-limits-teen-truckers-to-veterans-military-members

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION, ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

ON RELEASE OF FAST ACT CONFERENCE REPORT

ARLINGTON, VA (December 1, 2015) –The Senate and House Conferees today released a conference report for the surface transportation reauthorization bill, H.R. 22. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, as it is now known, removed several dangerous policies, improved upon other anti-safety measures, but unfortunately, included some troubling provisions. We are extremely thankful to the Members of Congress on the Conference Committee that listened to the facts and to the people; their hard work is evidenced by the positive changes made to the final bill.

Sections limiting shipper and broker liability in hiring decisions, allowing greater exemptions to hours of service requirements for classes of truck drivers, and prohibiting states from providing further break protections for drivers were ultimately removed from the final bill. These provisions only benefitted private interests at the expense of public safety. We are glad that reason prevailed, and that the Conferees advanced the interests of their constituents rather than the interests of corporations.

Language regarding the minimum level of insurance required by large trucks, crash weighting, and teen truckers was also improved. Conferees removed some of the overly burdensome hurdles that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) would have to go through in reviewing the required level of minimum insurance for large trucks. They also decided that any crash weighting determination should be reviewed first by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC), before requiring the FMCSA to engage in a costly ineffective review process. Additionally, by restricting the three-year teen trucker pilot program to veterans and servicemen above the age of 18, Congress greatly restricted the amount of higher-risk drivers that would be allowed to drive trucks across state lines.

Regrettably, measures allowing state and industry specific exemptions are still embedded in the bill. Weight exemptions for logging, milk products, and natural gas vehicles will endanger our roads and will set dangerous precedents for future weight exemptions. It is time for Congress to close the backdoor to nationwide weight increase and stop enacting these corporate earmarks.

Other troublesome provisions that remain include hiding Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores from public view and implementing a “beyond compliance” point system into CSA scores. Concealing scores that are collected by taxpayer-funded law enforcement officers on tax-payer-funded roads essentially robs the motoring public of two things: the ability to access data that they paid for and public safety.

Overall, the enhancements to the final bill shows that the Truck Safety Coalition’s concerns were heard, and we are thankful to the Members of Congress and their staffs that listened.

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Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment to Conduct Safety Study of Double 33s

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker-Feinstein Motion

To Conduct Safety Study of Double 33-Foot Trailers by Voice Vote

ARLINGTON, VA (November 19, 2015) – Yesterday, sound judgement prevailed and the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, an amendment proposed by Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to require a safety study on Double 33 tractor trailers before they are federally permitted.

This is a huge victory for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, and the American motoring public. We appreciate that the Senate voted responsibly by seeking to fully understand the safety impact of these longer trucks before considering whether they should be allowed on our roads.

This was a great win, but there is still a long road ahead. The amendment has to make it out of the Conference Committee, which will consolidate the House and Senate versions of the THUD Appropriations bills. The final bill must then be passed again by both chambers and signed into law by the President. We hope that the Senate’s second vote in two weeks to oppose a federal mandate requiring Double 33s sends a clear and consistent message to the House that safety must remain a top priority in crafting transportation policy.

A recent poll showed that 77% of Americans reject the ideas of these larger Double 33 tractor trailers being driven on our roads. We are pleased that the Senate listened to three out of four Americans, instead of the handful of industry lobbyists who are pushing this dangerous agenda with no regard for its effect on public safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is grateful for all the Members of Congress that listened to the stories of those who lost family members to truck crushes, and those who survived them. A special thank you goes out to Senators Wicker and Feinstein for their leadership on truck safety issues and for working tirelessly to underscore the dangers of allowing these longer trucks.

Statement of John Lannen – Passage of Wicker-Feinstein Amendment

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees on Safety Study of Double 33s

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

Senate Votes in Favor of Wicker Motion to Instruct Conferees

To Study Safety Effects of Double 33 Foot Trailers by Margin of 56-31

ARLINGTON, VA (November 10, 2015) – Today, reason prevailed and the U.S. Senate voted in favor of Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Motion to Instruct Conferees to require a safety study of Double 33s before mandating these longer trucks on our roads. This nearly 2-1 vote was a major win for survivors and victims of large truck crashes, law enforcement, truck drivers, trucking companies, truckload carriers, public health and safety groups, and the American public. We are pleased that the Senate employed a data-driven approach that allows for further study on the safety effects of Double 33s as well as an opportunity for public input.

In voting for this measure, Senators listened to the Department of Transportation recommendation that there should be no increase to truck size or weight because of insufficient data to support such a change. This was the right move, especially given the steadily worsening trends of truck crash fatalities and injuries. Congress should understand the impact of the length increase on pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, as well as the additional wear on our nation’s roads and bridges before mandating them. It is only logical to study this truck configuration further, which we already know takes 22-feet longer to stop and have a six-foot wider turning radius than Double 28s.

As the House and Senate head to conference to resolve the differences between their competing versions of the multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, the DRIVE Act (H.R. 22), there is still work to be done to improve the safety title of the final legislation. We ask negotiators to remove provisions that allow teenagers to drive trucks across state lines as well as those that hinder rulemaking to increase the minimum insurance required by large trucks. Rejecting measures to increase truck size and weight are a step in the right direction; however, allowing the aforementioned safety rollbacks to remain in the final bill would be a step backwards for safety.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the congressional support for truck crash survivors, the families of truck crash victims, and for our mission to promote safety. We want to specifically thank Senators Wicker and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for their outstanding leadership on this issue.

Statement of John Lannen on Passage of Wicker MTI (Double 33s)

Victory for Truck Safety: Statement of John Lannen on Failure of Ribble Amendment

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

STATEMENT OF JOHN LANNEN,

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TRUCK SAFETY COALITION

House of Representatives Votes to Reject Truck Weight Increase on our Nation’s Highways by a Margin of 236 to 187

During Consideration of 6-Year Surface Transportation Bill (H.R. 22)

ARLINGTON, VA (November 4, 2015) – Last night, the House of Representatives voted and rejected an anti-safety amendment sponsored by Representatives Reid Ribble (WI), Kurt Schrader (CO), David Rouzer (NC), and Collin Peterson (MN). The amendment sought to increase the federal truck weight limit from 80,000-lbs. to 91,000-lbs. This vote was a victory for safety and for all those who travel on our highways. The American people have been clear and consistent in their opposition to heavier trucks and Members of the House listened.

In voting against this measure, Representatives dismissed recycled myths and instead made decisions driven by data. The Department of Transportation (DOT) conducted a study on Truck Size and Weight, required by Congress in MAP-21, and concluded that there should be no increase to truck size and/or weight. We are pleased that Members who voted in opposition to the Ribble Amendment appealed to logic and listened to the initial findings of the DOT study.

The Truck Safety Coalition is especially thankful for all of the Congressional support for our victims and for our mission to promote safety. During our biennial Sorrow to Strength conference, which took place two weeks prior to this vote, truck crash survivors and families of truck crash victims came to Washington, D.C. to let their representatives know that there is a dire need to stem the increasing rates of truck crash deaths and injuries. Members were moved by the accounts of loss and tragedy.

We were proud to have joined a diverse coalition of safety advocates, law enforcement, labor, truck drivers, and trucking companies in this efforts. We are particularly thankful for the leadership of Representatives Jim McGovern (MA), Michael Capuano (MA), Lou Barletta (PA), Grace Napolitano (CA), and Jerrold Nadler (NY) in keeping safety at the forefront of the debate on the transportation bill.

Statement on Ribble Amendment

Letter to Senator Reid in Response Carl Pope Letter

August 6, 2015

The Honorable Harry Reid

Minority Leader

United State Senate

Washington, D.C. 20510

 

Dear Senator Reid:

Thank you for your longstanding and ongoing leadership on highway and auto safety. We have been made aware of a letter recently sent to you regarding purported environmental and safety impacts of the proposal being advanced by FedEx and a few other trucking and delivery service companies to force states to allow double 33-foot tractor trailer trucks (double 33s) on their roads and highways (Letter from Carl Pope dated July 25, 2015). Unfortunately this letter contains numerous untruths, parrots industry propaganda, and underscores Mr. Pope’s lack of knowledge regarding the safety problems of large trucks, the increased damage to roads and bridges they will inflict, and general freight transportation issues.

Mr. Pope supports consideration of double 33s in place of the current national standard 28-foot trailers, but Mr. Pope’s facts are incomplete or incorrect. Mr. Pope’s letter asserts, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submissions of those who opposed this change that it will impair safety…” showing that he is unaware of the studies that have found that the use of multiple trailers is associated with an 11% higher crash rate compared to single trailer combinations.[1] This statement also completely ignores the recent U.S. Department of Transportation Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study (DOT Study) that concludes there is a “profound” lack of data from which to quantify the safety impact of double 33s and consequently recommends that no changes in the relevant truck size and weight laws and regulations be considered until data limitations are overcome.[2]

Furthermore, Mr. Pope writes, “I have found no evidence in the testimony and submission of those who oppose this change that it will…increase wear and tear on our roads…” This statement overlooks the fact that the DOT Study stated that an empty double 33-foot trailer weighs 2,362 pounds more than an empty double 28-foot trailer,[3] increasing the overall and axle weights which inflict more damage to bridges and pavement, even when the truck is empty. Allowing longer trucks will also enable them to carry more weight for the same type of freight, further increasing the axle weights and bridge and pavement damage compared to current national standard 28-foot double trailers. Despite the letter’s admonishment that the Senate should allow longer “BUT NO HEAVIER” trucks, Mr. Pope appears astonishingly ignorant of the fact that longer trailers weigh more, and because they can carry more freight, will weigh even more when loaded than 28-foot trailers even if they do not reach the maximum federal weight limit. This obvious contradiction has eluded Mr. Pope.

Moreover, Mr. Pope is apparently not aware that the DOT Study predicted one time bridge costs for strengthening or repair of $1.1 billion for introducing the use of double 33s. This figure does not even include increases in annual costs for maintaining the bridge deck and road surface.[4] The DOT Study estimated that double 33s will inflict a 1.8% to 2.7% increase in the life cycle costs (maintenance) for roads and pavements.[5]

In addition, any theoretical reduction in trucks and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is only temporary.[6] After just one year even more trucks will be on the roads and bridges and many of them will be heavier double 33s which will pound the roads and damage bridges to an even greater extent than double 28s.

The letter continues by stating that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will save substantial amounts of otherwise wasted fuel…” Yet, estimates of the impact of the shift to double 33s on fuel savings are almost entirely derived from estimated reductions in VMT. The total fuel consumption reduction calculated by the recent DOT Study is only 1.1%.[7]  The DOT Study also states clearly that any estimated benefits are so minimal that they would be offset in one year by the forecasted growth in shipments due to the expected annual increase in freight demand.[8] Moreover, the reduction in fuel consumption is only for the trucking sector and ignores the impact of shifting freight from more fuel efficient transportation modes, which in the end could increase overall fuel consumption. Regardless, the reduction in trucking fuel usage represents a pittance in terms of fuel conservation, and would be of little consolation to those highway users who may be killed or maimed as a result of the use of double 33s and who will be subsidizing the higher cost of road and bridge damage inflicted by these oversized trucks.

It should be noted that Mr. Pope’s letter does not address the fact that the industry estimates of VMT savings are wholly unrealistic and are based on a flawed study paid for by FedEx and other trucking industry supporters which assumes that both 28-foot and 33-foot double trailer trucks weigh the same – 80,000 lb.[9] This cannot possibly be true, and contradicts industry arguments that 28-foot doubles do not weigh 80,000 pounds when filled to capacity. In reality, 33-foot double trailer trucks would be heavier both when empty and when full, which undermines the industry’s estimate of theoretical fuel use reduction.

Mr. Pope also asserts, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… reduce the number of trucks on our highways…” Once again, Mr. Pope appears to be blithely ignorant of the fact that increases in truck size and weight have never resulted in fewer trucks. Rather, every time there has been an increase in truck size and weight in the history of America, the result is more, not fewer, registered trucks and trailers.[10] Furthermore, as the DOT study points out, any theoretical reduction in the number of trucks on the road is ephemeral and will be wiped out in one year.[11]

Finally, he states that, “I have found…unequivocal evidence that it will… make the trucking sector more efficient – perhaps as much as 16-18% more efficient.” This 16% to 18% increase in efficiency is primarily based on the increased volume capacity of 33-foot trailers compared to 28-foot trailers.[12] Yet, for this theoretical efficiency to be achieved, every shipment must move with perfect efficiency from a 28-foot trailer to a 33-foot trailer. Current inefficiencies in the system, like empty (deadhead) trips, would further cut into this predicted efficiency when heavier and larger double 33-foot trailers travel empty or below capacity, and at the same time waste more fuel during these trips. Moving goods by rail has consistently been shown to be more fuel efficient, with rail fuel efficiency ranging anywhere from two to more than five times the fuel efficiency of trucks.[13] Increasing truck size and likely shifting freight from more fuel efficient modes to trucks could end up increasing overall fuel consumption.

We urge the Senate to require that more information and data are collected on the safety and infrastructure impacts a change in national transportation policy on truck lengths would cause. The “Feinstein-Wicker” amendment would accomplish this critically important step before moving forward with a rulemaking. Considering that truck crash fatalities have been on the rise the last four years (2009-2013), moving commercial motor vehicle safety laws and regulations in an unsafe direction is not sound and could result in even more needless deaths and injuries.

Thank you for your time and consideration of these surface transportation safety issues. We look forward to continuing to work together with you to advance safer roads and highways for our nation’s motorists.

Sincerely,

John Lannen, Executive Director

Truck Safety Coalition

 

Joan Claybrook, Chair

Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), and

Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

 

Jacqueline Gillan, President

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

 

Daphne Izer

Lisbon, ME

Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)

Mother of Jeff Izer, Killed in a truck crash 10/10/93

 

Clarence Ditlow, Executive Director

Center for Auto Safety

 

Andrew McGuire, Executive Director

Trauma Foundation

 

Jennifer Tierney

Kernersville, NC

Board Member, CRASH

Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC)

Daughter of James Mooney

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/83

 

Officer Robert Mills

Fort Worth Texas Police Department

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement

 

Investigator Wes Bement

Grand Prairie, TX Police Dept.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement

 

Officer Kevin Cordell

Burleson, TX Police Dept.

 

Jane Mathis

St. Augustine, FL

Board Member, PATT

Mother of David Mathis

Mother-in-Law of Mary Kathryn Mathis

Killed in a truck crash 3/25/04

 

Tami Friedrich Trakh

Corona, CA

Board Member, CRASH

Sister of Kris Mercurio, Sister-in-Law of Alan Mercurio, Aunt of Brandie Rooker & Anthony Mercurio

Killed in a truck crash 12/27/89

 

Larry Liberatore

Severn, MD

Board Member, PATT

Father of Nick Liberatore

Killed in a truck crash 6/9/97

 

Linda Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Board Member, PATT

Mother of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Laurie and Randall Higginbotham

Memphis, TN

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of Michael Higginbotham

Killed in a truck crash, 11/18/14

 

Dawn King

Davisburg, MI

Board Member, CRASH

Daughter of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Ed Slattery

Lutherville, MD

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Husband of Susan Slattery

Killed in a truck crash 8/16/10

Sons Matthew & Peter Slattery critically injured

 

Kate Brown

Gurnee, IL

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Graham Brown

Injured in a truck crash 5/2/05

 

Marianne and Jerry Karth

Rocky Mount, NC

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of AnnaLeah and Mary Karth

Killed in a truck crash 5/4/13

 

Frank and Marchelle Wood

Falls Church, VA

Volunteers, Truck Safety Coalition

Parents of Dana Wood

Killed in a truck crash 10/15/02

 

Jackie Novak

Edneyville, NC

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Charles “Chuck” Novak

Killed in a truck crash 10/24/10

 

Bruce King

Davisburg, MI

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son-in-law of Bill Badger

Killed in truck crash 12/23/04

 

Ron Wood

Washington, D.C.

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Betsy Wood, Brother of Lisa Wood Martin, Uncle of Chance, Brock, and Reid Martin

Killed in a truck crash 9/20/04

 

Gary Wilburn

Weatherford, OK

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Father of Orbie Wilburn

Killed in a truck crash 9/2/02

 

Melissa Gouge

Washington, D.C.

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Cousin of Amy Corbin

Killed in a truck crash 8/18/97

 

Julie Branon Magnan

South Burlington, VT

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 01/31/02

Wife of David Magnan

Killed in a truck crash 01/31/02

 

Nancy Meuleners

Bloomington, MN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 12/19/89

 

Cindy Southern

Cleveland, TN

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of James Whitaker, sister-in-law Anthony Hixon and aunt of Amber Hixon

Killed in a truck crash 9/18/09

 

Kim Telep

Harrisburg, PA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Wife of Bradley Telep

Killed in a truck crash 8/29/12

 

Christina Mahaney

Jackman, ME

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Injured in a truck crash 7/19/2011

Mother of Liam Mahaney

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/2011

 

Sandra Lance

Chesterfield, VA

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Mother of Kristen Belair

Killed in a truck crash 8/26/09

 

Alan Dana

Plattsburgh, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Son of Janet Dana, Uncle of Caitlyn & Lauryn Dana, Brother-in-law of Laurie Dana

Killed in a truck crash 7/19/12

 

Lisa Shrum

Fayette, MO

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

Daughter of Virginia Baker, Step-daughter of Randy Baker

Killed in a truck crash 10/10/06

 

Henry Steck

Homer, NY

Volunteer, Truck Safety Coalition

 

References:

[1] An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight: Phase I – Safety, Multimodal Transportation & Infrastructure Consortium, November 2013; Memorandum from J. Matthews, Rahall Appalachian Transportation Institute, Sep. 29, 2014; The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study: Volume III Scenario Analysis, Chapter VIII: Safety, FHWA-PL-00-029 (Volume III) (August 2000).

[2] DOT Transmittal letters to Congress, June 5, 2015.

[3] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 22, p. 52 (June 2015).

[4] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Bridge Structure Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-7 (June 2015).

[5] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Pavement Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table ES-2, p. ES-8 (June 2015).

[6] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[7] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Modal Shift Comparative Analysis Technical Report, Table 24, p. 54 (June 2015).

[8] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[9] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., (2011, April 11) Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 19.

[10] Traffic Safety Facts 2013: A Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the General Estimates System, DOT HS 812 139, Table 9, p. 34, NHTSA (2015).

[11] Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Limits Study: Volume 1: Technical Reports Summary, p. ES-5 (June 2015).

[12] Woodrooffe, J., De Pont, J., Comparative Performance Evaluation of Proposed 33 ft Double Trailers Combinations with Existing 28 ft Double Trailers, p. 20. (April 11, 2011)

[13] Comparative Evaluation of Rail and Truck Fuel Efficiency on Competitive Corridors, Federal Railroad Administration, Nov. 19, 2009.

Media Advisory: Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

CONTACT: Beth Weaver, 301-814-4088

beth_weaver@verizon.net or

Cathy Chase, 571-243-7282

cchase@saferoads.org

UPDATE: Battle Over Truck Driver Hours of Service Law Reaching Peak

12/5: Sen. Collins Issues Statement Saying U.S. DOT Secretary Foxx’s Letter is “Inaccurate” and “Inflammatory”

12/6: ATA President and CEO Graves Issues Statement Saying Obama Administration Doesn’t Understand the Consequences of Its Rule; Safety Groups Using “Deceptive Tactics”, “Outright Lies”, “Falsehoods” and “Half-Truths”

12/6: Parents Against Tired Truckers Founder Daphne Izer Sends Letter to Sen. Collins Defending Sec. Foxx for Putting Safety First

12/6: Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Chair Joan Claybrook Issues Statement Highlighting Provision Being Pushed Through Without Any Hearings, Safety Reviews or Analysis in Final Hours of Session

12/8: Press Conference

Every Minute and a Half, a Large Truck Crash Occurs

Truck Driver Fatigue is a Major Factor in Truck Crashes – Truck Drivers Need a Weekend Off

Public Will Pay with Their Lives and Wallets if Trucking Industry “Wish List” Becomes Law

WHEN:           Monday, December 8, 2014, 10:30 a.m. EST

WHERE:        U.S. Capitol, House Visitor Center room 215

WHAT:           Congress is Considering a Major Change to Federal Regulations that Will Dramatically Increase the Number of Hours a Semi-Truck Driver is Allowed to Work in a Week from 70 to 82 Hours.  Only 6 months ago comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair was killed in a horrific crash caused by a fatigued truck driver.  U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a letter urging Congress to reject this change.

This special interest rider is being pushed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to be included in the overall government funding bill being negotiated before Congress adjourns.  There have been no Congressional hearings and no safety reviews.  Also, there has been no Senate debate or vote on the amendment to strip the anti-safety provision sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and numerous Senators.* Safety groups and truck crash victims sent a letter to Appropriations Committee leaders urging them to stop assaults on truck safety and a letter to Secretary Foxx urging recommendation of a presidential veto if anti-safety provisions are included.

WHO:             U.S. Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)

Jackie Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, and Former Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Fred McLuckie, Legislative Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Daphne Izer (Lisbon, ME), Co-Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Daphne lost her 17-year-old son Jeff on October 10, 1993, when a Wal-Mart truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel. Jeff and three of his friends were killed, and another was seriously injured.  She is a recipient of the 2014 White House Champions of Change award.

Ron Wood (Washington, D.C.) On September 20, 2004, Ron’s mother Betsy, sister Lisa and her three children, Chance (age 4), Brock (age 2) and Reid (6 weeks old), were killed near Sherman, Texas when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep behind the wheel and crossed a median into oncoming traffic.  The driver collided with two vehicles, killing a total of ten people and injuring two more.

BACKGROUND:      

  • Truck driver fatigue and Hours of Service compliance has been recognized as a major safety concern and a contributing factor to fatal truck crashes for over 70 years.
  • Adoption of Sen. Collins’ provision will revert the HOS rule to the one in effect when a 2006 survey of truck drivers found an alarming 65% of truck drivers reported they often or sometimes feel drowsy while driving and nearly half admitted to falling asleep while driving in the previous year.(Truck Driver Fatigue Management Survey, FMCSA, 2006).
  • Truck crashes are on the rise.  From 2009 to 2012, truck crash injuries increased by a staggering 40 percent, resulting in 104,000 people injured in 2012.  During this same period, truck crash fatalities increased three years in a row, a cumulative 16 percent increase, resulting in nearly 4,000 deaths in 2012.
  • Commercial motor vehicle crashes result in a cost of $99 Billion to the U.S. every year.
  • The current Hours of Service rule issued by U.S. DOT took effect last year after consideration of 21,000 formal docket comments submitted from drivers, carriers, state law enforcement, safety advocates and trucking industry associations; 6 public listening sessions and an online Q&A forum; review of 80 sources of scientific research and data; a Regulatory Impact Analysis of nearly 50 scientific sources.
  • The current rule allows truckers to take a short rest period of just 34 hours off-duty before beginning a new work week, which can include up to 60 or 70 hours of driving. The “Collins amendment” will suspend the safety requirements that prevent drivers from taking back-to-back short rest periods after long weeks, and require two periods of rest between 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., dramatically increasing allowable driving hours of truck drivers to more than 80 hours a week.

*Sponsors of “Booker Amendment” to retain current 34-Hour Restart Provision: Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

###

Read Our Letter to Secretary Foxx in Response to the Motor Carrier Industry’s Letter Regarding FMCSA’s CSA Program

Dear Secretary Foxx:

On behalf of the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC), Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), the thousands of families who have lost loved ones, and the tens of thousands more who have been injured each year in truck crashes, we are writing in response to the August 22, 2014, letter sent to you from members of the motor carrier industry regarding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. In this letter members of the trucking industry request that the Department, “remove motor property and passenger carriers’ CSA Safety Measurement System scores from public view.” Our organizations and volunteers strongly oppose this request to hide lifesaving safety data from the public. The safety-focused culture engendered by CSA greatly relies on the accountability it produces by making its data publicly available. We urge you to protect the current system and ensure that the CSA Safety Measurement System scores are not removed from public view.

In 2010, the FMCSA replaced their SafeStat Program with the CSA program that includes the Safety Management System (SMS). From the beginning, SMS and CSA were rolled out with the understanding that they would undergo improvements and modifications, and FMCSA has followed this plan. FMCSA has made changes to the SMS system to reflect stakeholder concerns and suggestions. The most recent changes occurred in July 2014, when FMCSA announced a package of enhancements to the SMS website resulting “from feedback solicited from motor carriers, law enforcement personnel, industry representatives and other stakeholders who were given an opportunity to critique various website enhancement proposals.”[1] As changes continue to be considered and made to hone the CSA Program, it is essential that CSA retains the ability to efficiently analyze data for timely intervention, that it is cost effective given FMCSA’s limited resources, that it remains fair to truck crash victims and their surviving family and friends by retaining the current Crash Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Category (BASIC) system of including all crashes regardless of fault, and that it includes public access to carrier safety data.

In 2006, the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) was formed to provide advice and recommendations to the FMCSA Administrator on motor carrier safety programs and motor carrier safety regulations. As you know, MCSAC is composed of motor carrier industry stakeholders including industry representatives, law enforcement, family members of truck crash victims, and safety organizations. In MCSAC meetings, when CSA benefits have been discussed, committee members noted that the system “is dispensing more data and giving the agency the ability to reach more carriers without a dramatic increase in resources” and inspiring “the start of a cultural change in the industry by forcing carriers to focus on the details of safety management.”[2] A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on CSA supports this assertion. The report identifies that industry stakeholders have found “that CSA’s greater reach and provision of data have helped raise the profile of safety issues across the industry. According to industry stakeholders, carriers are now more engaged and more frequently consulting with law enforcement for safety briefings.”[3]

Moreover, independent analysis indicates that MCSAC and other industry stakeholders’ assessment is accurate and that the CSA Program is a significant improvement over the prior system. Several key points from FMCSA’s own evaluation include:

  • CSA is effectively monitoring the industry with an interventions model that demonstrates an overall 35 percent increase in the number of carriers reached per Safety Investigator;[4]
  • From the CSA rollout in December 2010 until the end of 2011, violations per roadside inspection declined by eight percent and driver violations per inspection declined by 12 percent;[5] and,
  • Compliance improved while being less intrusive and time-consuming for all motor carriers (both large and small).[6]

These results show the most significant improvement in violation rates in the last 10 years. The advances achieved with the CSA program are necessary and long overdue and should not be modified in ways that will hinder their effectiveness. As with a previous attempt by the motor carrier industry to pressure FMCSA to hide and remove safety data (from the CSA Crash BASIC), removing data from public view will serve to reduce, rather than promote, safety.

The GAO report agrees with CSA’s “data-driven, risk-based approach.”[7] The GAO believes that the CSA “holds promise and can help FMCSA effectively identify carriers exhibiting compliance or safety issues—such as violations or involvement in crashes.”[8] Additionally, the report confirms FMCSA’s claim that the CSA program has helped the agency contact or investigate more motor carrier companies and that it is an improvement over the previous SafeStat system.[9]  Although the GAO did include recommendations to improve CSA in its report, they were issued to help CSA to become a sharper, more useful tool. The GAO never recommended or suggested the removal of the SMS scores from the CSA website.

The next step in enhancing the SMS system is a revised safety fitness determination (SFD) that reaches significantly more carriers than the approximately 12,000 yearly SFDs that FMCSA is currently able to perform through onsite compliance reviews. The SFD will more effectively use FMCSA data and resources to identify unfit motor carriers by analyzing the CSA BASIC data and other performance data to determine a carrier’s level of safety, and will address many of the motor carrier industry’s concerns. Although FMCSA indicated in their August 2014 Significant Rulemakings Report that a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the SFD will be issued in February 2015, we urge FMCSA and DOT to expedite the release of the revised SFD NPRM.

We urge the Department to continue to preserve and improve the efficient and effective CSA program including its essential public access to data which has, in a relatively short time, already helped to elevate the safety culture within the trucking industry. As FMCSA improves the CSA program and expands its data collection and delivery of safety information, we encourage FMCSA to ensure that the results produce greater oversight for both large and small carriers.

Sincerely,

Ed Slattery Board Member, Parents Against Tired Truckers Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)

Tami Friedrich Trakh Board Member, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)

John Lannen Executive Director, Truck Safety Coalition Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee CSA Subcommittee (recently disbanded)


[1] “FMCSA Announces Enhancements to SMS Website.” Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Duane DeBruyne Office of Public Affairs FMCSA, 25 July 2014. Web. 27 Aug. 2014.

[2] “TopNews.” New Advisory Panel Broadens Access to CSA Planning. Trucking Info Publisher David Moniz, 27  Aug. 2012. Web. 26 Aug. 2014.

[3] United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers, GAO-14-114, Feb. 2014, page 14.

[4] FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION BEFORE THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS, 112th Cong. (2012) (testimony of Wiliam A. Bronrott). Print.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers, GAO-14-114, Feb. 2014, page 31.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., page 13.

A Letter from Safety Groups Urging Senators to Support the Booker Amendment to Stop Tired Trucking

Dear Senator,

We are united in writing you to support the Booker Amendment to the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) FY 2015 Appropriations bill.  This commonsense amendment will prevent an increase in weekly work hours for truck drivers, and will reduce truck driver fatigue by striking language inserted into the bill at committee markup (Collins Amendment) that weakens the hours of service (HOS) rule.

The Collins Amendment returns to the old restart, which was struck down by the Courts, where half of the truck drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel and 65% said they were drowsy. 

 Truck Drivers Need to Sleep in Their Beds and Not Behind the Wheel of an 80,000 lb. Rig.

Compelling editorials sum it up:

 USA Today: “The full Senate and House ought to have enough sense to leave it [the current rule] alone.

The Virginian Pilot: “The effect of the Senate bill would undoubtedly be more truckers on American highways with less rest. Another year with 4,000 people killed in large truck crashes.”

New York Times: “The trucking industry makes the disingenuous claim that the rule, which has been in effect since July 2013, “exacerbates congestion” and could make highways less safe by forcing more truck drivers onto the roads during morning rush hours. The rule requires that the break include two consecutive nights, but it says nothing about what time drivers must go back to work. If anything, the rule is too weak.”

The Boston Globe: “All motorists should hope the new rules go into effect, and keep tired truckers off the road.”

Baltimore Sun Editorial: “[P]rospect of putting more such [fatigued] drivers on the road ought to motivate the House and Senate to strike down this dangerous amendment…”

Lehigh Valley Live: “Don’t delay tougher truck-safety rules.”

The Record (North Jersey): ”There’s no need to loosen the cap. Overly tired truck drivers don’t belong on the road.”

Star Ledger: “Efforts to overturn federal sleep rules should be reversed, with more emphasis instead on technology and enforcement to ensure they’re followed. . . The company [Walmart], whose drivers covered 667 million miles last year, and the entire trucking industry should work to preserve, not overturn, rules that make the highways safer.”

Portland Press Herald: “But truckers falling asleep at the wheel is such a well-documented killer that we would rather see other strategies to reduce traffic congestion tried before this one. . . There must be a way to reduce rush-hour traffic that doesn’t put more tired truckers on the road.”

Lehigh Valley Live: “Lawmakers need to use common sense, defeat this amendment [the Collins amendment] and allow stricter truck-safety measures that protect all of the motoring public to take effect.”

 Don’t Turn Back the Clock on Driver Fatigue with the Collins Amendment

 We urge you to uphold ongoing efforts to reduce truck driver fatigue

 Support the Booker Amendment

 Sincerely,

 Truck Safety Coalition

 Parents Against Tired Truckers

 Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways

 Road Safe America

 John Lindsay Foundation

 

 

Florida Volunteers Pay a Visit to the Offices of Members of Congress

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, our Florida volunteers, Jane Mathis (St. Augustine, FL) and Tracy Quinichett (Orlando, FL), visited the Florida offices of Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Corrine Brown. Jane and Tracy are both mothers who lost a son and daughter, respectively, in preventable truck crashes. At the meetings, the two women shared stories of their loss and spoke about critical truck safety issues, including the dangers of increasing truck size and weight limits, the importance of equipping trucks with improved rear and front and side underride guards, and increasing minimum insurance—which has not been done in 30 years. We look forward to continuing to work with these offices in the future.

Many thanks to our volunteers for their efforts to improve truck safety.

 

Advisory: Labor, Law Enforcement, Health and Safety Groups, and Victims of Truck Crashes Join to Oppose Bigger and Heavier Trucks

Contact:  Beth Weaver 301.814.4088 or beth_weaver@verizon.net

UPDATE — MEDIA ADVISORY

BREAKING NEWS – Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee Issues Report Condemning Methods Used in U.S. DOT Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study

Serious Concerns Raised by Safety Groups Validated – Report Exposes Significant Weaknesses which Will Render Study Results Inaccurate and Unreliable

WHAT:           NEWS CONFERENCE – Serious concerns raised by safety groups and others about potential bias and data shortcuts in the conduct of the Comprehensive Truck Size and Weight Study (Study) required by MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (Pub. L. 112-141), have been confirmed today by a newly-released report by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Peer Review Committee.  The report, TRB First Report: Review of Desk Scans, found that there are significant shortcomings in the study methodology which means the Study will not be able to predict the impact of large truck size and weight policy changes on safety, the environment and enforcement with a high degree of accuracy.

The purpose of the Truck Size and Weight Study was to gather objective data on the impact of longer, heavier trucks on safety and the infrastructure.  The results of the Study will likely influence Congress about future policy on truck size and weight limits.  Today’s TRB Report reveals a short-circuiting of the Study process and critical flaws with the Study.

Tomorrow (Wednesday), a broad coalition of law enforcement, labor, victims and health and safety groups will join with U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) to oppose bigger, heavier trucks and discuss the on-going problems plaguing the U.S. DOT study. This comes at a critical time as Congress debates reauthorization of the multi-billion dollar bill that funds surface transportation programs.

Additionally, findings from a recently released report, An Analysis of Truck Size and Weight Issues, Phase I – Safety, will be publicly introduced for the first time. Conducted at Marshall University by the Multimodal Transportation and Infrastructure Consortium (MTIC), a University Transportation Center recognized by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), this report found a higher fatal crash rate when double trailer trucks are involved in a crash as compared to single trailer trucks, and a significantly  higher fatal crash rate for trucks with six or more axles, presumably the heaviest of trucks, as compared to those with five axles.

WHEN:            Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 10 a.m.

WHERE:        Cannon House Office Building, Room 421

 WHO:             U.S. Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Jacqueline Gillan, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Emcee)

Georges Benjamin, MD Executive Director, American Public Health Association

James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Bruce Gower (Clyde, OH) Chief of Police

Mark Burton (Knoxville, TN) Director, Transportation Economics for the Center for Transportation Research, University of Tennessee

Joan Claybrook, Chair, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Former Administrator, NHTSA

Jennifer Tierney (Kernersville, NC) Board Member, Truck Safety Coalition and Safe Highways, and Member, Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee – Her father was killed in 1983 in a truck crash in North Carolina.

 

BACKGROUND:  Truck crash fatalities and injuries have increased three years in a row. The number of fatalities has increased by 16 percent since 2009 from 3,380 to 3,921. The annual number of injured has increased by 40 percent during this time, from 74,000 to 104,000. In fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, 98 percent of the deaths occur to car occupants.

Polls show a majority of the public does not want bigger trucks, nor do they want to pay for them. Overweight trucks accelerate the destruction of roads and bridges. One third of America’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition and one fourth of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Increasing truck weights will make our roads more deadly and create an unfunded mandate of infrastructure repair and maintenance needs paid by taxpayers.

More information is available at www.trucksafety.org.

###

Safety Groups Respond to T & I Hearing Stacked with Industry

Click here to view our letter.

Taking to the road for safety – Tami Friedrich Trakh

Taking to the road for safety

Click here to read this article featuring Tami Friedrich Trakh a TSC volunteer, CRASH board member and MCSAC member.


Truck Driver in Slattery Crash Sentenced to Five Years

Truck Drivers Being Pushed Beyond Their Limits to Drive Excessively Long Hours
Truck Driver Who Pled Guilty to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide and Aggravated
Vehicle Assault Sentenced to Five Years Sending a Strong Message to Truck Drivers
 
Arlington, VA (January 12, 2012):  The truck driver behind the wheel of a triple trailer truck who had fallen asleep and crashed into the back of the Slattery family car resulting in the death of Susan Slattery and serious injuries to her and her husband Ed Slattery’s two sons was sentenced today in the Portage County Court House of Portage County, Ohio.  He was charged by a grand jury with one count of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated vehicle assault to which he pled guilty.  The judge sentenced him to five years sending a strong message to truck drivers that they will be held responsible for their actions and decisions on the road.
 
Ed Slattery responded to the news, “While nothing can bring back my wife or restore my sons’ complete health, I want people – the motoring public and truck drivers alike – to know that our roadways are not as safe as we believe them to be. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just issued a rule allowing truck drivers to drive 11 hours a day and up to 70 hours per week, and truck driver fatigue is an industry-wide health crisis.  In a recent survey almost half of truck drivers (48%) admit that they have actually fallen asleep while driving during the previous year, and 65% of truckers report that they are often or sometimes drowsy.” Slattery continued, “I want truck drivers to know that when they are pushed to surpass these already excessive driving hours, they – and not the companies – may personally wind up paying the price of jail time, or even worse.  Truck drivers deserve the same protections provided to airline pilots.  It makes absolutely no sense that our government has created a safety hierarchy of sorts where truck drivers fall to the bottom.  This system is driving truckers and surrounding motorists to our graves.”
 
The Slattery family crash occurred on August 16, 2010 around 11:45 a.m. near the 190-mile marker on the Ohio Turnpike in Streetsboro.  Susan Slattery was one of the 3,675 people killed in truck crashes in 2010.  This number of deaths was an increase of 8.7% from 2009 and was contrary to the decrease in overall motor vehicle crash fatalities which went down to its lowest level since 1949.
 
“Truck drivers are paid by the mile which results in a financial incentive to drive as fast and as far as they can,” stated John Lannen, Truck Safety Coalition Executive Director.  “The DOT issued this inadequate hours of service (HOS) rule and still has not required electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all trucks and buses.  They are perpetuating an unsafe work environment for truck drivers and endangering all those on the roads.”
 
Studies show that truck crash risk increases exponentially after 8 consecutive hours of driving and the highest level of crash risk occurs during both the 10th and 11th hours of consecutive driving.  Decreasing truck driver’s HOS by one hour would limit the time they are on the road during this period of highest crash risk.
 
Slattery concluded, “This is not a happy day for my family and we feel badly for the truck driver and his family but responsibility must be taken for the crash.  What happened to my family is clear and compelling proof of why the HOS rule must be changed and what the real costs of fatigue in the trucking industry are.  The truck driver HOS rule must be based on scientific studies, not the financial desires of the trucking industry.  While the trucking industry may claim that reducing the HOS to 10 consecutive hours would negatively impact their bottom line, I want to point out that it would produce more than $2 billion a year in crash, injury and health cost savings.  My family’s crash alone cost millions and health care costs for the rest of my son Matthew’s life are estimated at beyond $18 million. Our lives will never be the same but I will continue to work to reduce truck driver fatigue so that another family will not have to suffer the tremendous loss that my family lives with every single day.”

 

Links – Sorrow to Strength 2007

SORROW  TO STRENGTH – RELATED LINKS

Useful links for those attending the conference or otherwise supporting it.

Identify & Contact Your Elected Officials

Contact the U.S. Senate

Contact the U.S. House of Representatives

Congress.org

Know the Issues

Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)

Department of Transportation (DoT)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Maps of D.C. and Capitol Hill

Mapquest.com

Accommodations

Hyatt Arlington
Details on reservations coming soon.

Transit

Ronald Reagan National Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro & Bus Transportation)

Press Kit – Sorrow to Strength 2007

2007 SORROW TO STRENGTH CONFERENCE

March 12, 2007 – Press Kit

Sorrow to Strength 2009 – Press

Press Coverage

Press Conference – Media Information

Statements

  • KATHLEEN ELLSBURY, M.D.
    (Seattle, Washington), widow of University of Washington professor and seismologist Anthony Qamar who was killed October 5, 2005, along with his colleague, when an overloaded logging truck with multiple safety citations lost its load on Highway 101.  The tragedy prompted Dr. Ellsbury to lobby for passage of the Tony Qamar and Daniel Johnson Act to improve motor carrier safety in her state.
  • DAWN KING
    (Davisburg, Michigan), whose father, William Badger, was killed December 23, 2004, when a tractor trailer driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with his car.  Dawn has since joined the Board of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and has participated in its First Response program to assist other grieving truck crash victims.
  • FRANK and MARCHELLE WOOD
    (Falls Church, Virginia), whose daughter Dana Wood and her East Carolina University classmate were killed October 15, 2002, when their car was struck and pushed 1,500 feet by a careless trucker with a suspended license who had clocked nine hours of driving that day.
  • TRACY QUINICHETT
    (Laurel, Maryland), mother of University of Maryland senior Channing Quinichett who was killed January 21, 2009, when a tire flew off a truck being towed and smashed through her windshield.   Channing was to receive her early childhood education degree from the state university on May 22.  She wanted to be a teacher.

Sorrow to Strength 2009

The Truck Safety Coalition is pleased to announce our 2009 Sorrow to Strength Conference.

Sorrow to Strength is specifically designed for survivors of truck crashes and families/friends of those who have died or been injured. The conference allows us to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, workshops and public policy actions to advance truck safety. This conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical professionals interested in advancing truck safety.

The last Sorrow to Strength Conference in 2007 produced an agenda of important truck safety priorities. It also included visits arranged by TSC staff with key lawmakers in Congress, senior officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation, and National Transportation Safety Board Members. Additionally, we released a report card on the most lethal states for truck crashes and on the lack of federal leadership by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 10 key categories such as truck driver fatigue, truck size and weight, and safety regulation enforcement, at a well-attended press conference in Washington, DC.

This year’s conference comes at a critical crossroads in truck safety as Congress will soon be taking up a multi-billion dollar transportation spending bill, the successor to the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act-A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Trucking interests have been lobbying Congress to increase the federal truck size and weight limits while also continuing to push for other measures to rollback lifesaving truck safety rules and laws. We need your help and voice in the truck safety debate to counter the views of the trucking industry.

When:
Saturday, May 2nd (tentative start time 1 p.m.) – Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Where:
Hyatt Arlington, 1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA
For reservations, please call the hotel directly at 800-233-1234 or go to http://arlington.hyatt.com.

Cost:
The rate for all nights is $99 per room per night (tax not included). The code you need to mention to get this rate is G-TSC1. There is no fee for the conference itself. Need-based scholarship funding is available to assist with travel costs.

This conference will be organized to discuss both personal experiences and how to work as a powerful, effective constituency. Throughout Sorrow to Strength, you will have the opportunity to meet with safety experts, elected officials, and safety supporters. You play an important role in the fight to improve truck safety and bring down truck crash deaths and injuries. Please, join us for this importantmeeting.

For more information or to answer any questions about Sorrow to Strength, please contact us here or at 1.888.353.4572.

We hope to see you in May!

Sorrow to Strength

2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference

We are pleased to announce the 2011 Sorrow to Strength Conference. The conference will be held in Washington, DC from Saturday, April 30th to Tuesday, May 3rd.

This conference is designed to bring together families and friends of truck crash victims and truck crash survivors.   There is no charge, and the conference is open to all survivors, advocates, and legal/medical/other related professionals interested in truck safety.  The conference provides the opportunity to come together for a weekend of sharing, remembrance, and workshops. On Monday and Tuesday we will bring our messages for improved truck safety policies and laws to Capitol Hill and the Department of Transportation during meetings which will be pre-arranged for you and attended by a Truck Safety Coalition staff person with you.

If you are interested in attending, please call the office at 888.353.4572 or 703.294.6404.  You can also email us at info@trucksafety.org. More information will be posted at www.trucksafety.org in the near future.  Please forward this message along to anyone you believe may be interested.

Please mark these dates on your calendar and start thinking about your arrangements to attend. As soon as you have decided if you will be attending, please let us know so that we can begin lining up meetings for you. We look forward to helping you with this process and especially to seeing you there.

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Press Conference Speakers – Sorrow to Strength 2007

Press Conference Speakers
March 12, 2007

  • John Lannen, Executive Director, The Truck Safety Coalition
  • Jackie Gillan, Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; CRASH board member.
  • Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen; Chair, Citizens for Reliable & Safe Highways (CRASH)
  • Daphne Izer, of Lisbon, Maine, who founded Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.) after her son Jeff, 17, and three of his friends were killed October 10, 1993, by a tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
  • Nikki Hensley of Fostoria, Ohio, whose husband Virgil Lee Hensley was killed July 9, 1997, when a semi-truck driver, who was working for 19 hours straight, ran a stop sign and struck the side of their car, killing her husband instantly.  The truck driver walked away without any punishment when the Wood County Prosecutor dropped the case.  Nikki was left to raise their two sons who are now in college, and she is now a P.A.T.T. board member.
  • Jane Mathis of St. Augustine, Florida, whose son David and bride of five days, Mary, were driving home from their honeymoon on March 25, 2004, on I-95 near the Kennedy Space Center when they were killed in a fiery crash caused by a Winn-Dixie tractor trailer driver who fell asleep at the wheel.  The truck driver was never prosecuted.  David also was the son of Circuit Court Judge Robert Mathis.
  • Rob and Sherry Durk of Linden, Michigan, whose daughter Janelle Ann Marie Durk, 15, was killed July 6, 2006, in a crash caused by two semi tractor trailer drivers on I-70 in Clark County, IL.  One trucker was driving for 20 hours straight and crashed after falling asleep, which caused a traffic backup. The Durks stopped safely, but another semi hit them from behind, killing their teen daughter.  They were driving home to Michigan from a family reunion in Kansas.
  • Truck crash victims from around the nation will be in attendance, including FL, IL, KY, ME, MD, MI, MN, NJ, NM, NC, OH, OK, VA, and TX.

Truck Crash Target Change – Sorrow to Strength 2007

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